My mum had a huge print of Flaming June in her lounge.
Such a strong, sophisticated yet gentle and natural painting. To see it always bought to mind her spirit. When she was young she had Flaming June coloured hair and she had such a quiet elegance, despite being a very natural woman.
It is thought that the woman portrayed alludes to the figures of sleeping nymphs so beloved of the Greeks . The Oleander branch in the top right, which is toxic is thought to symbolises the fragile link between sleep and death.
For me this painitng looks like a painting of a woman loved and admired, a woman of spirit and passions as shown by her impromptu sleeping, transparent clothes, no shoes and wild tumbling hair. But a woman whose elegance is captured in her lines and in her swan like shape. Yes the pose is undoubtedly contrived but I think its a real tribute to the human form and just how much grace it contains.
Leighton apparently said that art “was never more needed” than in the late nineteenth century, which he regarded as a coarse and ugly age. This is indeed a painting that takes your breath away – just beautiful.
And it will always remind me of my mum.
You can purchase a print of this for £13.99 at Art.com