Of all of Frederic Leighton's paintings, Flaming June is perhaps the artist's most recognizable and best loved work. It is an image of splendid beauty that compels the viewer to gaze in wonder at the rapturous symphony of color and composition. In this painting, Leighton reveals his genius as both a colorist and a Classicist.
Although Flaming June does not tell a specific story, it is clear that the artist is inviting the spectator to contemplate the figure of the sleeping girl. Some scholars have suggested that this painting is Leighton's homage to a grand tradition in art history that goes back to Giorgione and Titian, in which images of slumbering women were represented. These sleeping women, who were usually at least partially nude and often referred to by the mythological name Venus, were meant to inspire sensuous thoughts (and reactions) in their primarily male audiences.
However, the Victorian era is notorious for its outwardly prudish attitudes toward overt sensuality. And while the model in Flaming June is certainly not nude, her fiery garments are meant to excite and arouse the senses. Indeed, the girl's dress is the most astonishing shade of orange, and this voluptuous color draws the eye. The vibrant orange is complemented by a soft band of blue in the background, and this effective combination of elements is but one of the characteristics that mark this painting as one of Leighton's most accomplished masterpieces.
The Art of Lord Leighton
In this beautiful book, author Christopher Newall examines the life and works of eminent Victorian artist Frederic Leighton. The chapters deal with Leighton's evolution as a painter, from his early phase as "The Outsider", to success as "The President of the Royal Academy". And there are plenty of gorgeous color images to complement the text.
Christopher Wood's elegant and informative book features a comprehensive "who's who" of Victorian artists, from Pre-Raphaelite masters to the Olympian Dreamers. Highly recommended for anyone who appreciates Victorian art.