Titian's Renaissance masterpiece Diana and Actaeon is part of a mythological series that the artist created for King Philip II of Spain in the mid-16th century. ((National Gallery/Associated Press))

Britain's National Gallery and the National Galleries of Scotland have successfully raised more than $85 million Cdn to purchase an important 16th century Titian painting and prevent its sale on the open market.

The London and Edinburgh galleries announced jointly on Monday that they have secured the funds necessary to buy Diana and Actaeon from the Duke of Sutherland, who first put the painting up for sale last summer.

"We are hugely grateful to all the individuals and all the funding bodies who responded so warmly and wholeheartedly to this campaign over the past four months," said John Leighton, director general of the Scottish gallery.

His London counterpart, Nicholas Penny, added that he found the response to the fundraising appeal "astonishing."

The Duke offered the painting to the galleries for about a third of its estimated price on the open market. He also said he would give the two arts organizations a chance to buy a corresponding work from his collection, Diana and Callisto, for the same price, in 2012.

Both paintings are from a mythological series that Titian created for King Philip II of Spain in the mid-16th century.

Immense public appeal

The two galleries began a massive fundraising appeal to assemble the money necessary to buy Diana and Actaeon. A host of British artists, led by contemporary star Tracey Emin, also drafted and signed a petition calling on the British government for financial assistance.

"The paintings have been in Britain for more than two centuries on continuous public view at the National Gallery of Scotland since the collection was placed there in 1945, inspiring generations of visitors," the artists said.

"We also believe that, in challenging times, the heritage of the past and the art of the present are more important than ever."

Ultimately, the sale price was reached thanks to money from both galleries, the Scottish government, the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Monument Trust, the Art Fund and nearly $12 million Cdn. worth of donations by the general public.

However, the campaign has not been without its detractors.

Some Scottish politicians have questioned the government's decision — amid the current economic downturn — to spend such large sums to save one piece of art.

Diana and Actaeon will alternate between the London and Edinburgh galleries for display.

With files from the Associated Press