Sunday, December 06, 2009

Sundays Art: Pre-Raphaelites Flaming June 1895

Frederic, Lord Leighton (1830-1896)

What had first begun as a motif to adorn a marble bath in one of Leighton's other works, Summer Slumber, it turned out that he became attached to the design and decided to create it as a painting in its own right.

This is number one on my list of the Pre Raphaelites, I have it on a journal and buy it every time I see it on anything. I have always dreamed her to be a sleeping goddess on mount Olympus, slumbering in a paradise on the clouds. I am in shock it was to be a "adornment" at first and was not originally created as a main piece.


  1. She does look very peaceful even if that doesn't look like a very comfotable sleeping position! I'm not very familiar with art in general so thanks for sharing these - they are beautiful.

  2. I love the brilliant colors of this work!

  3. Lizzy, I adore this painting! I have a framed print of it that used to hang in my living room (it's in storage now ... one of my Pre-Raphaelites I had to store to make some room for my husband's wall decor)

    Ever notice her nipple peeking out?

    I just read last night that Leighton was gay.

  4. The most interesting part about this piece is that it is now in Puerto Rico. Here is the circumtances of its arrival there:

    "In 1963, Luis A. Ferre - 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 Ponce Museum of Art in Puerto Rico, which he had founded. On a stop in a gallery in Amsterdam, he found "Flaming June" abandoned in a corner. He became impressed by the painting's beauty, and asked the owner about it.

    The owner said no one was interested in the painting because it was considered too old-fashioned for the time. But he added that if Ferre was interested in it, that he could have it for $10,000. Even though Ferre thought it was expensive (as noted above, it had been shortly before been auctioned for much less), they entered into an agreement that Ferre would wire the money for the painting. The man gave his word of not selling it to anyone else.

    Antonio Luis Ferre, the industrialist's son, many years later related that his father spent a sleepless night, worried that the gallery owner wouldn't keep his promise[1]. Ferre called him in the morning, assuring him that the money would be wired and asking him to keep his promise - which he did, even though other people had already gone to the gallery and liked the painting.

    Thus, "Flaming June" traveled to the Ponce Museum of Art and was prominently displayed. In later years, it was loaned to important expositions around the world, with the renewal of interest in Victorian art. As noted by El Nuevo Dia Newspaper (April 22, 2001), Puerto Ricans are proud of having rescued the painting from obscurity and feel that "It now belongs to Puerto Rico". Flaming June is currently on display at the Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart, Germany, as of November 2009."

    It is nice to see that I am not the only one who loves this piece. It is beautiful the colors is what has always drawn me to it. I did not notice the nipple until I did this post, LOL. I had no idea that he was gay, he sure knew a womans body though.

  5. Another beautiful Pre Raphaelite painting. The oranges of this really pop out.

  6. One of my favourites, too. The lavish colour is gorgeous, and the abandoned flowers and shoes set towards the corners (on the diagonal to one another) suggest a gathering or celebration has just taken place and the young woman has surrendered to a moment of giddy intoxication. I wonder if 'June' is her first name? The time of the year when the days are shortest and colours the most vibrant, and when – in the pagan world – fires were lit to mark the solstice.
    I think, too, it is also rather poignant as the artist is perhaps saying that she will never be quite as beautiful ever again.

  7. I like Robert's interpretation.

    Someone who knows the Victorian language of flowers should be able to parse out the metaphors of the flowers and plants in the upper right quadrant of the canvas -- they look like they're sitting on a mantelpiece, except that the horizon of this painting is a sunset over the water. Alma-Taddema also painted a lot of images of women in neo-classical drapery posed on and around whitewashed stucco walls and benches, with what is meant to evoke the Mediterranean or Aegean sea in the background.

  8. This is a beautful piece. I really love the way she looks so peaceful in such a relaxed position. The colors are striking but it is her positioning that strikes me the most.

  9. That is GEORGOUS! Just makes me feel serene just looking at it.

  10. Robert you are so right on the money it does look like she lapsed into a dream after a party. I have tried to find where the "June" part come from. June would make sense to me because of the fiery side of her appearance and since June is a summer month. I am so elated that you joined in on this piece. You have brought a very interesting point to the table. Very interesting.

    The golden background is really gold it was made to look like the sea. I have seen some of his other pieces with women in the same drapery and it is so appealing. The flimsiness of the cloth gives a seductive goddess feel.

    I am truly honored that all of you have been loving the Pre-Raphaelites. There are so many wonderful ones I wish I had a box of them like Leslie hidden away.

  11. Are you aware of Leighton's "The Fisherman and the Siren?" It is SUCH a romantic, sensual image. In fact, I wanted to crop it and use it for the cover of of O, JULIET, but the publishers were squeamish with the nudity and sexuality of it, and went with the more traditional (yet gorgeous) image of Romeo and Juliet by Dicksee. I was hoping to post the image here, but I can't see any way to do that. Maybe you can.

  12. I like Leighton, almost as much as John William Waterhouse :)

  13. Leighton I knew of some of his other pieces but the mermaid I had missed. I did some looking into it and what I find most interesting is the tail wrapped around his leg. She wants to keep him forever.

    Waterhouse has a few beautiful mermaid and nymph pieces too.

    Thank you for sharing Robin!

  14. I've always thought she looked like a Greek Goddess. Love it!

  15. At least I was not the only one who thought her to be a Greek Goddess, the golden background gives it that feel.


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