24 April 2008

From Puerto Rico to London

Two major Victorian paintings, Burne-Jones's The Sleep of Arthur in Avalon and Leighton's Flaming June (left), have traveled from Puerto Rico to London, where they will be on view at Tate Britain until February 2009.  "How did dozens of fabulous British works of art, most of them Pre-Raphaelites, end up in an obscure museum on a Caribbean island?" asks Alastair Sooke in an article published today in the Daily Telegraph. The answer is simple: they were acquired by "a far-sighted Puerto Rican industrialist, politician and philanthropist called Luis Antonio Ferré . . . In 1963, he bought Arthur in Avalon for 1,600 guineas at Christie's. In the same year, he also acquired Sir Frederic Leighton's voluptuous 1895 painting Flaming June." Ferré served as governor of Puerto Rico from 1969 to 1972. "He bought Arthur in Avalon and Flaming June as the crown jewels of a new museum in his home town of Ponce. The first stone of a stunning white modernist building, designed by celebrated American architect Edward Durell Stone, was placed in 1964, and the Museo de Arte de Ponce was officially inaugurated the following year. . . . Working on a limited budget, he targeted unfashionable pictures, and collected pieces representing every major school of Western art. 'The scholars and critics all called it kitsch,' he recalled in 1993, referring to his extensive collection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings and drawings. 'Everyone thought I was crazy to buy them.'"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing a little enlightment to Mr. Sooke's neo-colonial and short-sighted ignorance. He is a good example of the shameful and deep-rooted eurocentric frame of mind that still dominates many "intellectuals".

Jorge Crespo
Manatí, Puerto Rico