This painting has a calming beauty of which I have had the pleasure to admire on more than one occasion at the Museum of Art in Ponce, Puerto Rico. In 1963 Luis A. Ferré purchased this jewel for a mere $1,000 and it is Frederic Leighton's most recognizable painting.
We hope to see the Museum of Art in Ponce open its doors which have been closed since March 2020. The gift shop is now open, but exhibits have yet to open. The building is still undergoing structural repairs due to the damage encountered by earthquakes during 2020.
Now, have a glass of wine, sit back and enjoy a video by Faces of Ancient Europe on Frederic Leighton’s Exquisite Neoclassical Artwork .
A brief Art Appreciation moment on (Frederic Leighton (1830-1896)
Flaming June was first begun as a motif to adorn a marble bath in one of Leighton's other works, Summer Slumber. He became so attached to the design that he decided to create it as a painting in its own right.
According to art historian Andrew Graham-Dixon "her pose is loosely modelled on that of Michelangelo's famous statue of Night, in the Medici Tombs in Florence, which Leighton regarded as one of the supreme achievements of Western art. "The position of the sleeping woman gave Leighton a great deal of trouble. He made several preliminary sketches to determine the way in which she should lie; in particular he had difficulty making the angle of her right arm look natural. His studies show that the picture went through at least four evolutionary sketches before Leighton came to the end result. Out of these studies, four are nude and one is draped. The draped figure looks the least lifelike, demonstrating Leighton's need to draw from a naked model to achieve a fidelity to nature. The toxic oleander branch in the top right possibly symbolizes the fragile link between sleep and death.
Flaming June has become Leighton's most recognizable picture. Samuel Courtauld, founder of the Courtauld Institute, called it "the most wonderful painting in existence". The realism of the transparent material worn by the sleeping woman, the stunningly rich colors and the perfectly recreated marble surround are characteristic of Leighton's work, as is his use of natural light. He allows the sunset in the background to appear as molten gold.
In 1963 Luis A. Ferré – the noted Puerto Rican industrialist and politician, who would be elected governor five years later – was on a trip around Europe, engaged in purchasing paintings and sculptures for the Museo de Arte de Ponce in Puerto Rico, which he had founded. "It’s extremely curious to know that this work of such late Victorian importance was bought in Amsterdam by Luis A. Ferre for less than $1,000 dollars in 1960. The painting has also loaned to important exhibitions around the world. Flaming June was on display at the Museo del Prado in Madrid in 2008, the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart in Germany in 2009 and in the Frick Collection in New York City in 2015.
In 2015 an original pencil and chalk study for the painting – the model's head – was found on the back of a bedroom door in the mansion inherited by Bamber Gascoigne after the death of his great aunt Mary Innes-Ker, Duchess of Roxburghe.
While the body of the woman remains a mystery, there is speculation that the face is that of either of Leighton's two favorite models in the 1890s, Dorothy Dene or Mary Lloyd.
Mary Lloyd was the daughter of an impoverished country squire. She came to London and established a highly successful career as an artist's model, posing only for the head and hands, and not nude – an important distinction. She started posing for Leighton in about 1892, was requested to come to pose in January 1895 for Leighton's Lachrymae (1894–1895). She is probably also the model for his 'Twixt Hope and Fear (c. 1895).
Thanks to Wikipedia for this Art Appreciation moment.
To further study Frederic Leighton take a look at this video presented by the Frick Collection and Daniel Robbins, Leighton House Museum, London:
Hope you found the first article in the Art Appreciation Series both entertaining and educational.
Marie M. Rivera
April 8th, 2021
El Museo de Arte de Ponce en Ponce, Puerto Rico, es uno de los museos más grandes y reconocidos del área del Caribe. Fue fundado por el exgobernador de Puerto Rico Luis A. Ferré e inaugurado el 28 de diciembre del 1965. El museo cuenta con más de 3.000 piezas en catorce galerías.
Dirección: 2325 Av. Las Américas, Ponce, 00717
PO Box 855, Luquillo, PR 00773
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