Several hours in the sunshine, including a delicious pub lunch and a stroll around the park has finally given me that summer feeling. Two paintings which always make me think of hazy, lazy summer days are Albert Moore’s Midsummer (1887) and Frederic Leighton’s Flaming June (1895).
The bright orange of the women’s drapery in Midsummer is unusually strong for Moore and is said to have given Leighton the inspiration for Flaming June. Both Midsummer and Flaming June convey a sense of opulence and dreamy relaxation. There is an indulgent atmosphere in both works, perhaps these women too have had large pub lunches and are now sleeping them off (unlikely, I don’t believe Moore or Leighton drew their inspiration from the effects of overeating).
Flaming June is now displayed in the Ponce Museum of Art in Puerto Rico. Despite Leighton’s popularity during the nineteenth century, Victorian Art had fallen out of fashion by the 1960s and the painting had been abandoned in the corner of a gallery. In 1963, Luis Ferré, a wealthy Puerto Ricon engineer and politician, bought the painting very cheaply and arranged for its shipment to Puerto Rico. The painting is now rumoured to be worth approximately fourteen million pounds and is one of the most sought after works of the period.
The figure of the beautiful reclining female sleeper is a recurring topic in the Victorian imagination; for more sleep paintings see: Albert Moore’s Beads, A Sleeping Girl and Pansies (1875) and The Dreamers (1884).