30 June 2015

Flaming June

"Flaming June" Frederic Leighton (ca. 1895)

New York recently saw the arrival of a lovely lady, one who hasn’t been here in more than 35 years.

Frederic Leighton’s “Flaming June” (1895) is currently at the Frick Collection, on loan from the Museo de Arte de Ponce in Puerto Rico. I saw her a few weeks ago at a special preview, and she is gorgeous. A sleeping beauty in an orange gown that seems to glow, “Flaming June” was one of Leighton’s final works and his masterpiece.

The figure in the painting epitomizes the classic Pre-Raphaelite woman—auburn hair, oversized features, and large, strong body. Drowsing in the warm Mediterranean air, she exudes an air of sensuality while the appearance of red oleander, a poisonous flower, in the upper right corner draws connections between sleep and death.

Also on display is a small oil sketch of the painting (1894-95). Both are a stark contrast to the more subdued tones of the Whistler portraits from the Frick’s permanent collection that share the room.

Even if you've seen the painting reproduced a million times in art books, she's worth seeing in person. “Flaming June” is at the Frick Collection through September 6, 2015. For more information, visit here.

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