Under the Caribbean Sun: Victorian Art at the Museo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico
The Museo de Arte de Ponce holds the most important and, perhaps, the most unexpected collection of Victorian art outside the UK. Founded in 1959, it highlights icons of British painting, such as Frederic, Lord Leighton’s Flaming June and Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones’s monumental masterpiece, The Last Sleep of Arthur in Avalon. It also includes Burne-Jones’s celebrated Briar Rose paintings, which exist in an alternate version at National Trust property Buscot Park. This lecture will open the doors of a Caribbean treasure trove, telling the extraordinary story of how over 4,500 works of art crossed the Atlantic to Puerto Rico.
In the Modernist, middle decades of the twentieth century, Victorian art was firmly out of fashion. Paintings, once prized at London’s Royal Academy and elsewhere, were practically discarded: The Last Sleep of Arthur in Avalon was so carelessly hung in Christie’s saleroom in St. James’s that it actually fell off the wall, and Flaming June sold, at one point, for only £50. Luis A. Ferré, the Governor of Puerto Rico, saw the opportunity. During regular trips to London, Ferré eagerly acquired paintings, drawings, and sculptures, and sent them home to Puerto Rico, to be housed in his new museum, designed by MoMA architect Edward Durrell Stone in 1965. A plaque on the façade commemorates Ferré’s mission: “Este museo es de todos los Puertoriqueños” (This museum is for all Puerto Ricans).
Join Vanity Fair and Country Life contributor Patrick Monahan for a virtual tour of this exceptional collection…and a bit of British art under the Caribbean sun!