Art has always been used as an instrument to create awareness, express emotions, and entertain the audience. Consequently, to appreciate an artwork accordingly, it is necessary to conduct full analysis on the artwork and its creator. Flaming June is a magnificent work of art created by Frederic Leighton, a British sculptor and painter in 1895. The picture of a sleeping woman in an orange dress measures 47.5 by 47.5 inches and was painted using oil on a proportional square canvas. An in-depth study of Frederic Leighton’s background and the era of the painting will help contextualize the piece of art.
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The painting was created in 1895, which means it belongs to the Victorian era of art, named after Queen Victoria who lived between 1837 and 1901. The artists of this period abandoned the traditional and realistic approaches to art and slowly embraced the use of mythology and fantasy as the primary thematic aspects (Poë, 2017). The period introduced bright and appealing colors, and this is seen in the orange color used in Flaming June. Additionally, most of the pieces of the Victorian era featured women, particularly, fairies, nudes, and landscapes.
Frederic Leighton was one of the greatest contributors to the development of art during the Victorian era because he inspired the introduction of unconventional fantasy art and related elements. Flaming June is characterized by exceptional intensity which appears to be completely original with the use of unique vibrant colors (Martin & Jacobus, 2018). The aggressiveness in Frederic’s work also represents the transition from the academic and neoclassical approach to painting to the use of symbolism prominent in the Pre-Raphaelitism era. Moreover, technical precision is a style Frederic Leighton used consistently in his choice of themes that matched the elements of his paintings.
Aside from Leighton’s individual artistic styles which contributed to the growth of the Victorian art era, Flaming June was also inspired by a number of influences. Stylistically, it was shaped by the academic components of art because Leighton was a leader of the Royal Academy and had to practice everything he taught. In terms of content choice, Frederic integrated biblical, historical, and classical approaches into the art’s subject matter. Historically, the work was influenced by ideas from previous artists, which is seen in Flaming June since it imitates Michelangelo’s Night created in early 16th century (Poë, 2017). Additionally, Flaming June was influenced by the philosophy of life and death, originally from Plato and Socrates, which defines death as part of life and a state of sleep. Finally, there is no evidence of political inspiration to Flaming June but Frederic’s interaction with Queen Victoria must have influenced his decision to use a woman in the artwork. All the influences contributed to Frederic’s choice of ideas, styles, and themes in the artwork.
This course has been enlightening because in the previous assignment I had an opportunity to assess a work of art with regards to subject matter and the intentions of the artist. However, this week’s in-depth study and approach to the discussion task helped me appreciate the importance of research in contextualizing an artwork. I now understand that Frederic’s choice of the bright colors was influenced by the nature of the artistic styles in the Victorian era (Nigel, 2017). Additionally, I have learned that the artist’s technical precision in the painting was influenced by his role as the President of the Royal Academy. The research I conducted on Flaming June made me realize that it is a representation of the developments in the Victorian era.
Appreciating a work of art entails more than admiring the visual elements used by the artists. Flaming June is an example of an exceptional artwork created by Frederic Leighton that continues to have influence on modern day artists. Studying the artistic era and influences of the piece, and the unique styles of the art made me understand the artist’s intentions more clearly. Flaming June was created to symbolize the state of the dead in the form of sleep and the technical styles used also represent the growth experienced in the Victorian era.
Kryger, M., & Siegel, I. (2017). Sleep in enchanted colors. Sleep Health, 3(4), 223-224. Web.
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Martin, F. D., & Jacobus, L. A. (2018). The humanities through the arts. McGraw-Hill Education.
Nigel, I. (2017). The Return of Flaming June. Flâneur of the Arts.
Poë, S. (2017). Flaming June: The making of an icon review.