Tag Archives: Philip of Spain

Documentary: ‘Titian: Behind Closed Doors’ now on BBC iPlayer

In the winter of 1550 the most famous painter in Europe came face to face with the most powerful man on earth. What emerged from this encounter between Prince Philip of Spain and the Renaissance master Titian is seen as one of the most extraordinary commissions in all of Western art history.

Given almost total creative freedom, Titian was free to explore any subject he pleased. He returned with a set of increasingly dark and explicit images about sexual pursuit, assault and violence. Known as The Poesie, these pictures are admired for their groundbreaking brushwork and innovative composition – yet they remain Titian’s most disturbing and puzzling creations.

Now, coinciding with the National Gallery’s exhibition, which brought the paintings together for the first time in 300 years, we ask why this illusive, dark and often disturbing set of paintings has come to be seen as Titian’s greatest work.

This film includes scenes showing Dr. Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the National Gallery, closing the exhibition shortly after opening due to COVID-19.

First aired on 4 April 2020, the documentary is available on BBC iPlayer for the next 30 days. Click here to watch.