The Museo de Arte de Ponce in the MAPR: Victorian Art

January 23 to July 3, 2022

The Museo de Arte de Ponce’s Collection of British art is unique in the Americas due to its strength in internationally renowned Victorian paintings. The museum’s founder, Luis A. Ferré, acquired these paintings produced in England during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901), in the 1960s, a time when this type of art was profoundly discredited. Since then, appreciation for Victorian art has grown among collectors and academics worldwide.


The artworks featured in this exhibition reflect the changing art scene in Victorian Britain. Disenchanted by the conventional views of the Royal Academy of Arts, a small group of young artists including Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais and William Holmant Hunt, gather in the winter of 1848 to revolutionize painting. They identified themselves as the Pre-Rapahelite Brotherhood, a name that indicated their admiration for early Italian painters before Raphael (1483-1520), whose art they found to be more authentic.


In the early years, the Pre- Raphaelites concentrated on biblical scenes and subjects from English literature, specially the works of John Keats, Alfred Tennyson and William Shakespeare. Their paintings were characterized by unconventional compositions, vibrant colors and a rejection of chiaroscuro. The Pre-Raphaelites’ youthful ideals left a strong mark on the course of British art the latter half of the nineteenth century.

The museum’s iconic artwork. Flaming June, by Frederick Leighton, represents aestheticism, a different artistic sensibility that is closely related to the Pre-Raphaelites but, unlike them, did not constitute a formal group nor a unified movement. The supporters of aestheticism were of the opinion that art resides in the beauty of the object itself, a principle that they captured in the famous phrase “art for art’s sake.”

Helena Gómez De Córdoba

This exhibition is organized by the Museo de Arte de Ponce as part of an alliance, until 2024, with the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico.