Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber has what is perhaps the largest collection of Pre-Raphaelite art in private ownership. Apparently this includes my favorite piece of all, Waterhouse's blue Ophelia. But did you know that he almost bought the (arguably) most famous Pre-Raphaelite style artwork of all time...Flaming June...for 50 pounds??
The start of the article on Webber's official site is below. Click here to read the rest.
'I will not have Victorian junk in my flat.' Thus uttered my grandmother in response to my request to borrow £50 to buy Frederic, Lord Leighton's Flaming June from a Fulham Road shop in the early 1960s.
Her refusal was irritating. I had just bought a set of beautifully illustrated tomes by Dugdale about English monasteries entitled Monasticon Anglicanum with the proceeds of selling a best-forgotten tune to a music publisher, and the chances of repeating such a sale were slim. Granny had been tolerant about allowing the huge set of books into her flat but was emphatically not prepared to finance the purchase of a large, dirty and unframed canvas that a West London dealer had described to an art-obsessed schoolboy as the work of a former President of the Royal Academy.
Today Flaming June hangs in the Museo de Arte de Ponce in Puerto Rico, having been confirmed as the real thing by the great pioneer dealer in Victorian art Jeremy Maas. But much as I frequently still curse my grandmother for denying me the chance to buy a painting that is today billed as 'the Mona Lisa of the southern hemisphere', I can't really blame her. How could she have been expected to take Flaming June seriously? Born in 1898, she had seen the young men of her generation decimated in the First World War and had lived through another. Leighton's sensuous image must have seemed appallingly irrelevant to her.