Flaming June, the Pre-Raphaelite painting by Lord Leighton, is to be loaned to Tate in London from the Museo de Arte de Ponce in Puerto Rico. It will go on show at Tate Britain in March 2008, along with Burne-Jones’s Sleep of King Arthur in Avalon, also on loan from the Puerto Rican museum.
In return, Tate curators Alison Smith and Robert Upstone are working with Ponce chief curator Cheryl Hartup on a catalogue of the museums’s major collection of 19th-century British paintings.
The museum was set up in 1957 by Don Luis Ferré, a successful cement producer who later became governor of the US-ruled West Indian island (he died in 2003). Its present building, which dates from 1965, is now being renovated and expanded, in a $20m project which will involve the temporary closure of the museum in 2008-09.
The Lord Leighton painting is famous for being spotted by British composer Andrew Lloyd Webber in a Fulham shop in 1962 for £50; he wanted to buy it, but didn’t have the money. Mr Ferré bought it a year later from London dealer Jeremy Maas for £2,000.
Burne-Jones’s Sleep of King Arthur in Avalon is also the artist’s masterpiece, and was completed in 1898, after the artist had worked on it for 17 years. The huge painting, over 21 feet long, will have to be taken off its stretcher and rolled up for the journey back to London. It too sold in 1963, for £168. The Leighton and Burne-Jones are now each worth tens of millions of pounds.
The Ponce Museum is currently also negotiating loans with the Louvre and the Prado in exchange for cataloguing assistance.
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Flaming June to go on display at Tate Britain'