A classically-inspired peep show has been set up in the middle of the National Gallery.

Turner Prize-winning artist Mark Wallinger took to Twitter to find six women, all called Diana, willing to take turns to be spied upon by the public while they sit naked in a mocked-up bathroom.

The work, also called Diana, is inspired by three paintings by Titian which form the centrepiece of the exhibition and features scenes from Greek mythology.

They tell the story of how the young hunter Actaeon stumbled upon Diana, the Goddess of the Hunt, bathing naked and was turned into a stag to be torn apart by his own dogs in revenge.

diana A view through a peephole of Diana in the bathroom by British Artist Mark Wallinger

They are part of a series of six works created for King Philip II of Spain in the 16th century and were deemed so racy they were covered up with a curtain in the presence of the ladies of the court.

Visitors to Wallinger's work can look through peepholes, blinds and a keyhole to catch a glimpse of the women who perform the role of Diana working in two-hour shifts.

Wallinger said: "Diana is about watching and being caught in the act and evolved out of my desire to find a way of representing Diana bathing in a contemporary way."

He said there were very few rules for what his models could and could not do but they had to behave "suitably goddess-ish".

diani titian Titian's Diana and Callisto, one of the classical paintings Diana is based on

The artist, who hit the headlines when he submitted a film of himself dressed up as a bear to the Turner Prize exhibition, said he did not consider making a film for this exhibition.

He said: "I wanted a real naked person for people to have that relationship with."

He said finding his real-life Dianas was difficult, adding: "I did it initially through emails and contacts and then finally Twitter was the key that unlocked it."

Essex-born Wallinger is one of a group of artists, choreographers and poets challenged by the Trafalgar Square gallery to create something inspired by the trio of paintings.

mark wallinger turner prize winner The man behind Diana: Mark Wallinger, posing with his Turner Prize-winning bear suit in 2007

Other works at the exhibition, sponsored by Credit Suisse, include a robot rescued from a Polish factory and programmed by Conrad Shawcross and placed inside a glass box.

The show, called Metamorphosis: Titian is on at the gallery from this Wednesday to 23 September.

Think Dianas sounds controversial? Check out these scandalous artworks from history...

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  • Michelangelo (1475-1564)

    Twenty years after painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo sparked hot dispute with his enormous fresco, The Last Judgment. It depicted nudity on the chapel's alter wall and the Catholic counter-reformation critics were horrified. They deemed the work unfit for a papal chapel and after Michelangelo's death the offending genitalia were covered up. PHOTO: Artfinder

  • Jean-Louis André Théodore Géricault (1791-1824)

    Géricault's monumental The Raft of the Medusa, depicted the aftermath of a contemporary French shipwreck in which the captain had left the crew and passengers to die. The painting ignited political controversy in Paris, fuelling widespread condemnation of corrupt authorities, but Géricault went on to become a pioneer of the Romantic movement - not bad for an artist who launched his career with a sinking ship. PHOTO: Artfinder

  • Édouard Manet (1832-1883)

    Édouard Manet (1832-1883) - Édouard Manet caused a stir in the Paris Salon with his early painting The Luncheon on the Grass (Le déjeuner sur l'herbe). Showing naked women frolicking around fully dressed companions, they appeared to hold a mirror up to the prostitution problem that was rife in Paris' parks at the time - a taboo the city was not happy to confront head on. PHOTO: Artfinder

  • John Singer Sargent (1856-1925)

    When the prominent portrait painter chose the beautiful young socialite Virginie Amélie Avegno Gautreau as a subject, she was delighted. But when the painting was unveiled to the public under the title Portrait de Mme *** the sitter's flushed ear and provocative loose shoulder strap caused a stir: Gautreau was humiliated and her mother requested the painting be taken down. Sargent renamed the piece to the more impersonal Madame X and repainted the dress strap to make it look more securely fastened. PHOTO: Wikipaintings

  • Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

    Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon was originally entitled The Brothel of Avignon. The women pose in primitive attitudes and the piece was deemed savage and immoral even by Picasso's supporters. Though it is now considered a revolutionary achievement, it remained rolled up in Picasso's studio for years after it was first shown. PHOTO: Wikipaintings

  • Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)

    Perhaps the most scandalous in Duchamp's string of provocative works was his porcelain urinal, signed 'R.Mutt' and entitled Fountain. When it was submitted for the exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists in 1917, it was rejected by the committee, despite the fact that the rules stated that all works would be accepted by artists who paid the fee. PHOTO: PA

  • Marcus Harvey (born 1963)

    British artist Marcus Harvey found himself at the centre of scandal when his painting Myra was vandalised (with eggs from Fortnum & Mason) by angry members of the public when it was put on display at the Royal Academy of Art in 1997. It depicted the child murderer Myra Hindley in a portrait created completely out of the handprints of small children. The Sun said: "Myra Hindley is to be hung in the Royal Academy. Sadly it is only a painting of her". PHOTO: PA

  • Marc Quinn (born 1964)

    When sculptor Marc Quinn's sculpture of pregnant, disabled artist Alison Lapper was unveiled on Trafalgar Square's fourth plinth, Quinn was highly criticised by disability groups for capitalizing on the shock value of disability. Many art critics described the piece as ugly. PHOTO: PA

  • Damien Hirst (born 1965)

    As Britain's richest artist, Hirst is used to being under the spotlight and is no stranger to scandal. He has been accused of plagiarism on numerous occasions and was much criticised for his use of a baby's skull in 2008 piece, For Heaven's Sake. PHOTO: Wikipaintings

  • David Blaine (born 1973)

    Not your traditional artist, David Blaine's world-famous endurance stunts have earned him a place in the history books. Whether it's being hung over the Thames, simulating drowning or being frozen alive, his particular brand of performance art has seen him called an illusionist,a publicity hound and a cheat. PHOTO: PA