Sleeping Beauty – Masterpieces of Victorian Painting – Lower Belvedere, Vienna





Lower Belvedere, Vienna



Masterpieces of Victorian Painting from Museo de Arte de Ponce
15 June to 3 October 2010





The work Flaming June from 1895, one of the most famous paintings in art history by the English painter Frederic Leighton, and five masterpieces by Edward Burne-Jones, monumental in part, constitute the highlights of the summer exhibition at the Lower Belvedere.


Frederic Leighton


Frederic Leighton
Flaming June, 1895
Oil on canvas
119,1 x 119,1 cm
Collection Museo de Arte de Ponce. The Luis A. Ferré Foundation, Inc., Ponce, Puerto Rico.
Foto : John Betancourt
© All rights reserved





The show Sleeping Beauy t opens up an imagery of early Modernism hitherto largely unknown in Austria and offers a visual foray into art production in mid-nineteenth-century England. The Pre-Raphaelites, a group of artists established in London in 1848, aimed at a renewal of art as opposed to official Victorianism. The group’s ideological orientation was based on the contents of English literature and the country’s history, as well as religious themes that were related to everyday life in an unprecedented fashion.

Analyses and comparative examples visualize the art historical context of the works on display, which are by the hands of such artists as Lord Frederic Leighton, Edward Burne-Jones, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais, and William Holman Hunt and relate them to Austrian fin-de-siècle art.

The Sleeping Beauty can be seen as the prelude to a more intensive exploration of Victorian art at the Belvedere; the exhibition will be followed by a special presentation on the subject of European Symbolism and a show devoted exclusively to the Pre-Raphaelites.

A major part of the current show’s exhibits comes from the Museo de Arte de Ponce in Puerto Rico, which was founded by the industrial tycoon Don Luis Alberto Ferré Aguayo in 1959 and is currently being rebuilt. After stops in London, Madrid, The Hague, and Stuttgart, the show in Vienna is the last opportunity of seeing these extraordinary paintings before they return to Puerto Rico.

Johann Baptist Reiter


Johann Baptist Reiter
Slumbering Woman, 1849
Oil on canvas
56 x 68 cm
Belvedere, Vienna
© Belvedere, Wien

John Everett Millais


John Everett Millais
The Escape of a Heretic 1559, 1857
Oil on canvas
109,3 x 79,1 cm
Collection Museo de Arte de Ponce. The Luis A. Ferré Foundation, Inc., Ponce, Puerto Rico.
Foto : John Betancourt
© All rights reserved


The Belvedere’s exhibition revolves around the holdings of the Caribbean collection and is divided into four chapters, with the first demonstrating the superior quality of the collection compiled by Ferré within a very short time. One of the principal works is no doubt the painting The Escape of a Heretic by John Everett Millais from 1857.

The other three chapters illustrate how various motifs of sleep determined the artists’ imagery. Mythology and fairy tales offered them a considerable number of reference points. In this context, the Belvedere presents Burne-Jones’s painted illustrations for the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tale Sleeping Beauty, which the artist, in his own pictorial language, transformed into Briar Rose. Burne-Jones is also the author of the huge painting The Sleep of Arthur in Avalon, which measures almost 20 square metres.

The exhibition concludes with the didactically conceived chapter on Flaming June, Frederic Leighton’s masterpiece. The focus is on the work’s formal genesis, as well as on how the sensational subject was received in prudish Victorian England, but also on the painting’s conception according to classical aesthetic principles, the erotic elements, and the hitherto open question of who posed as a model.


Exhibition view


Sleeping Beauty. Masterpieces of Victorian Painting from Museo de Arte de Ponce, 2010
Exhibition view
Photo: Eva Würdinger
© All rights reserved

Exhibition view


Sleeping Beauty. Masterpieces of Victorian Painting from Museo de Arte de Ponce, 2010
Exhibition view
Photo: Eva Würdinger
© All rights reserved

Exhibition view


Sleeping Beauty. Masterpieces of Victorian Painting from Museo de Arte de Ponce, 2010
Exhibition view
Photo: Eva Würdinger
© All rights reserved





Museo de Arte de Ponce

In 1959, Museo de Arte de Ponce (MAP) opened its doors to the public in an old colonial villa in the Puerto Rican city of Ponce. Don Luis Alberto Ferré Aguayo (1904–2003) launched the island’s first fine art museum with seventy-one paintings, all of which had been bought expressly for the purpose in the 1950s. The collection’s inaugural holdings offered a rich survey of Western art from the Renaissance through the 1950s and established MAP as an important center of European culture in the Caribbean and the Americas. One of the special focuses of MAP’s collection is Victorian art. In 1959, Ferré acquired his first Pre-Raphaelite painting, Thomas Seddon’s Léhon from Mont Parnasse, Brittany, from the John Nicholson Gallery in New York. Later that year he managed to gain Edward Burne-Jones’s Briar Rose Series for his collection and a few years later Ferré acquired another masterpiece







Courtesy Belvedere, Wien
Images© All rights reserved





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~ by Stampfli & Turci on July 4, 2010.

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