Aesthetics for Birds

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone

Derek Matravers on Flaming June

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A woman in a vibrant orange sheer dress asleep on a chair.

This is entry #5 in our ongoing 100 Philosophers, 100 Artworks, 100 Words Series.

Philosopher: Derek Matravers (Open University)

Artwork: Lord Leighton, Flaming June (1895). Painting, oil on canvas 47″ x “49 Ponce Museum of Art, Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Words: Those of us who think aesthetic judgment is objective should be troubled by cases such as Lord Leighton; a towering figure until his death and disregarded thereafter. Flaming June was one of his last paintings. It demonstrates mastery of paint (but we all knew that) but also, I like to think, Leighton breaking free from the suffocating constraints of neo-Classicism (‘Culture seen without temperament’ as Bloch put it) to indulge his painterly sense of elements in interesting colour and spatial relations. An essentially modern painting, in the 1960s it failed to meet its reserve price at auction of $140.

One Comment

  1. This painting inspired Ralph McQuarrie for a painting of a sleeping robot, which was later used as the cover for Isaac Asimov's book “Robot dreams“.

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