This nineteenth-century masterpiece embodies the modern philosophy of “art for art’s sake,” the belief that the value of art lies in its aesthetic qualities rather than in its subject matter. The sensuously draped figure — freed from any narrative context — is integrated into a harmonious ensemble of rhythmic lines and radiant color. On loan from the Museo de Arte de Ponce in Puerto Rico, Flaming June makes its first public appearance in New York City in more than thirty-five years, exhibited alongside the Frick’s four full-length portraits by James McNeill Whistler, another major proponent of “art for art’s sake.”
“In the midst of the shimmer of reflecting waves Like swans, glides the bouncing rowboat Ah, over the joyous, gently-shimmering waves Glides the soul like the rowboat. From the heaven on down the waves Dances the evening glow around the boat.
Above the top of the western grove Friendly greets us the red glow; Below the branches of the eastern grove The reeds rustle in the red glow. Heavenly joy and the peace of the groves The soul breathes in the evening glow.
Ah, disappears from me with the dewy wings On rocking waves, flies the time Disappears tomorrow on shimmering wings Just like yesterday and today, flies the time. Until I myself on more highly radiant wings Flee from the changing time.”