Flaming June Sketch Rediscovered After 100 Years of Silence

Some things are hard to believe, but rarely in life we have news that often seem impossible. In the art world finding a work by any renowned artist is nearly impossible but sometime…rare treasure appear in the most unpredictable places. A sketch by the master Sir Frederic Leighton was found this Year at the West Horsley Mansion in Europe, not only that, is an original sketch for the entitled masterpiece called Flaming June painted in 1985 which is located at the Museo de Arte de Ponce in Puerto Rico

A drawing made in preparation for one of the most famous paintings from the Victorian era - Flaming June - which has been rediscovered after more than 100 years (Sothebys/PA)
Found drawing made in preparation for one of the most famous paintings from the Victorian era – Flaming June

The original sketch was rediscovered after more than 100 years of absence. The drawing shows only the presence of a female face in graphite over paper which helps us appreciate the minute details that would later be incorporated to the finished painting. The drawing appears to be created in 1895 as a study for his masterpiece Flaming June consider as the Mona Lisa from the Southern Hemisphere. 

Flaming June, by Frederic Lord Leighton (1830-1896).jpg
Frederic Leighton ” Flaming June” Oil on canvas 120 cm × 120 cm (47 in × 47 in) Museo de Arte de Ponce, Ponce, Puerto Rico

It is said on the book titled Antiquity, Renaissance, Modernity of Sir Frederic Leighton that The position of the sleeping woman gave him a great deal of trouble. He made several preliminary sketches to determine the way in which she should lie; in particular he had difficulty making the angle of her right arm look natural. His studies show that the picture went through at least four evolutionary sketches before Leighton came to the end result. Out of these studies, three are nude and one is draped face. Leighton’s needed to draw from a naked model to achieve a fidelity to nature in most of his work.

Since April 2015 all four Sketches have been accounted, with the recently found face being the missing link for over 100 years. This work will be offered for sale on July 15, 2015 at Sotheby’s auction house in London. It is estimated that this sketch of small format could reach a whooping $100,000, but still we can not forget that in the May 17, 2011  at Sotheby’s another 11′ x 14″ Flaming June sketch sold for around $32,000 dollars. It’s extremely curious to know that this works of such late Victorian importance was bought in Amsterdam by Luis A Ferrer for less than $1,000 dollars in 1960.

Screen Shot 2015-05-02 at 1.15.24 AM
FIGURE STUDIES FOR FLAMING JUNE pencil and white chalk on dark grey paper 14.5 by 11in.

Sotheby’s explains that This sheet of figure sketches was made in preparation for Leighton’s most famous picture, Flaming June (Museo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico) painted in 1895. Several models are thought to have posed for the studies for this painting but these nude sketches appear to have been made from Leighton’s favoured muse Dorothy Dene in two different poses curled in an armchair as though asleep.

By Joey Medrano

Reference page


 Flaming June (1895), article on The Independent dated 25 April 2008.

 Frederic Leighton: Antiquity, Renaissance, Modernity, Yale University Press (1999), s.v. “Flaming June”.

Antonio Luis Ferré, article in El Nuevo Día, 22 April 2001.



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