Image of Titian painting About the painting (left). Titian depicts a mythological scene from the Roman poet Ovid's Metamorphoses: after a day of hunting, young Actaeon loses his way and makes the mistake of stumbling upon Diana, the chaste goddess of the hunt, and her voluptuous cohorts, as they bathe. This is one of six large paintings that Titian produced for King Philip II of Spain during the mid-sixteenth century.

Titian. Diana and Actaeon. Ca. 1556-59. Oil on canvas. 184.5 x 202.2 cm. Collection of the National Gallery, London, and National Galleries of Scotland. View the painting in high resolution on Google Art Project and learn more about it here.

The figure of Actaeon (below right). Both St. Theodore (in the drawing) and Actaeon (in the painting) stand with one foot forward, one arm bent, and the other arm raised. Though their outfits differ in some respects, they wear similar boots, crisscross chest straps, and flowing skirts. One key difference: Theodore holds a tall lance, but Actaeon holds nothing—he simply raises his hand in surprise as he stumbles upon the bathers. Could forensic imaging reveal more about Titian's process of drawing Actaeon?

Infrared image of Actaeon (below left). Infrared imaging of oil paintings will sometimes reveal images invisible to the naked eye—preparatory drawings sketched directly onto the canvas before the paint was applied. When conservators applied this technique to Titian's Diana and Actaeon, a striking discovery was made: behind the figure of Actaeon is an underdrawing of what appears to be a long javelin held in his raised left hand. Actaeon's javelin, invisible to the naked eye because Titian chose to paint over it, closely resembles the lance that St. Theodore wields.

Detail of Titian painting under inrared light Detail of Titian painting