Titian's 'The Death of Actaeon'

Titian's 'The Death of Actaeon'
Titian: "The Death of Actaeon" (between 1559 and 1575), National Gallery, London

This is what you get for being a Peeping Tom. Titian's painting is as appalling as Ovid's story, based on a Greek myth.

When Diana thinks the hunter Actaeon has been a Peeping Tom, and he may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time, she turns him into a stag. The painting shows him transforming - he has a stag's head already - and his own hounds then tear him to pieces. Diana has her bow out to finish him off, but there is no sign of an arrow. Perhaps it's a mercy-killing? Titian painted it late in life and it would seem he was never really satisfied with it, which isn't surprising. Why did he choose this subject matter in the first place? The painting has changed owners many times. It was certainly well enough known a century later that it appears in the top right of the painting below by Flemish artist David Teniers the Younger in 1651, one of several versions like this that he painted.

"Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria in his Gallery," in the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels

Another painting on the subject caused a fuss in 2023 near Paris when an art teacher showed the painting below to a class of 11- and 12-year olds who said they were offended and they refused to look at it, sparking a parental social media uproar and a teacher walkout.

Giuseppe Cesari: "Diana and Actaeon" (1602-1603), in the Szépművészeti Múzeum (Museum of Fine Arts), Budapest.