Noli Me Tangere (Touch me not)

One of my all-time favorite paintings is Titian’s Noli Me Tangere. The story goes that during World War II, London besieged by bombs, the museum trustees at the National Gallery removed the most valuable pieces of art to protect them. They would hang only one masterpiece a month. Noli Me Tangere was the piece chosen by the public as the one it most wanted to see.

There are all sorts of reasons a people in the midst of that awful, awful war would find comfort and peace in Titian’s depiction of the garden scene. Neil MacGregor, once the director of the National Gallery, guesses it might be that “what it meant to the war-torn Londoners must have been close to the central poetic truth that Titian was originally trying to express—the reassurance of a love so strong that it can survive death.”

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