Sir Frederic Leighton completed Flaming June in 1895 and it is considered one of his most famous works. This portrait retains the same pose throughout Leighton’s career. Greek art was an influence on the portrait, as were the Pre-Raphaelites. Classical art was fading in popularity during the time of these artists, but has been rediscovered across the century.
“Flaming June” was initially a motif for Leighton’s marble bath in Summer Slumber. Leighton, however, soon became attached to this design and decided to make it a painting in its own right. The luminous colors and elemental symbols of the piece sing to us. It depicts a beautiful woman in a glorious dress, with multiple meanings.
The artist was notoriously private, and the subject matter of this painting was not entirely centered around historical events or literary figures. Instead, Leighton tended to focus on the beauty and visual qualities of a painting, rather than its story-telling function. For example, the painting depicts an idealized figure in a classical setting and wears a medal as president of the royal academy.
The painting was unveiled in the R.A. gallery on 7 April 1895 and sold for PS1,154. Leighton’s inspiration for the painting came from the famous Greek myth. Dorothy Dene, the model of the character, was very well known in the arts community and George Bernard Shaw knew her personally. Shaw appreciated her work and complimented her, but he didn’t want to see her as Eliza Doolittle.
During the early years of her career, Dene had various jobs. She was an actress, model, and writer. She also became a muse for the famous painter Frederic Leighton. Despite her unappealing childhood and life, she achieved her dream of being an actress, a prestigious title in the world of art. Her mother had died young, so her sister Dorothy followed in her footsteps.
Museo del Prado
Flaming June was originally lost for several years, until it was rediscovered in a 1960s art auction, for which it failed to reach its reserve price of US$140. Ultimately, it was purchased by the Museo de Arte de Ponce in Puerto Rico. It is now on display at the museum.
The painting was bought by a wealthy Puerto Rican politician, Luis A. Ferre, who later became the governor of Puerto Rico. He traveled to Europe in 1963 and was intrigued by “Flaming June” by Frederic Leighton. In exchange, he promised to send the artist $1,000 to make a deal. Ferre’s son then completed the transaction, and the painting was transferred to the Ponce Museum of Art.
The recent Banksy exhibition at the Staatgalerie Stuttgart in Germany was one of the most successful art events in the country. The artist’s works were lent by an anonymous German collector and received over one hundred thousand visitors, nearly double the usual number. To meet the high demand, the show ran until 10 p.m. for five days. While the artist’s works were first smuggled into museums as pranks, his success has led to an unprecedented demand for his work. This exhibition is recommended for anyone who appreciates a great work by a young, upstart street artist from Bristol, England.