About the collections

The online catalogue contains records for the archive and museum collection of Leighton House and Sambourne House two historic house museums operated by The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Listed below are highlights of what can be found on the catalogue for each collection.

Leighton House Collection:


The museum has a small collection of oil paintings by Leighton ranging from small painted oil sketches to finished works produced for exhibition at the Royal Academy.


Leighton exhibited just three works of sculpture, but their influence over a younger generation of British sculptors and the 'New Sculpture' movement was profound. The museum holds casts of each of these works; An Athlete Wrestling with a Python, The Sluggard and Needless Alarms. In addition, the collection includes one of the limited number of plaster casts of the first sketch model for An Athlete Wrestling with a Python, which Leighton presented to friends and fellow artists. The example at the museum was presented around 1900 by Leighton's friend and close neighbour, the artist G F Watts.


The largest single collection in the museum and one of the largest deposits of drawings by a nineteenth-century artist, is the collection of some 700 of Leighton's sketches and studies. The collection was assembled in the early years of the twentieth century, shortly after the establishment of the museum. Drawn from the contents of Leighton's studio at the time of his death, the collection was designed to be representative of his output, demonstrate his skill as a draughtsman and underline the importance that drawing had in his practice. The collection includes sketches made as boy, through to studies for his most celebrated works including Cimabue's Celebrated Madonna and Flaming June.

Prints and photogravures

A collection of prints and photogravures made from Leighton's finished paintings was established in conjunction with the drawings collection around 1900. Many are signed artist's proofs and were presented to the museum by the original publishers. Others were donations made by his friends and admirers.

Leighton personalia

A small collection of personal objects associated with Leighton's life. These include palettes and pigments, his seal, small collection of letters addressed to Leighton and a collection of 26 international honours and diplomas presented to Leighton.

Other Collections at Leighton House:

Works by Leighton's Friends and Contemporaries

In addition to the Leighton material, the museum holds a relatively small but significant collection of paintings, drawings and sculpture by his contemporaries. The paintings include works by John Everett Millais (1829-1896), George Frederic Watts (1817-1904), Frederick Sandys (1829-1904), Byam Shaw (1872-1919), Charles Fairfax Murray (1849-1919) and Solomon J. Solomon (1860-1927). Drawings include examples by Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898), J A M Whistler and George Howard (1843-1911) and watercolours and other works on paper by George Pryce Boyce (1826-1897), Thomas Rooke (1842-1942), Evelyn De Morgan (1855-1919) and Leighton's inspirational master at the Stadelesches Kunstinstitut, Edward von Steinle (1810-1886). Also included is a group of photographs by Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879) whose family had close associations with the Holland Park artist's colony.

De Morgan and Post De-Morgan Pottery

The museum holds a small collection of pottery by William De Morgan and his later associates, particularly Fred Passenger. Following De Morgan's death, Passenger continued his practice through the Bushey Heath Pottery which was established with the support of Mrs Ida Perrin. Much of this collection was presented by Ida Perrin who together with her husband paid for the construction of the Perrin Gallery as an extension at the east end of Leighton House at the end of the 1920s.

Sambourne House Collection:

The Sambourne Family Archives

The archive is an outstanding resource dating from 1815 to the present day, it includes:
- Diaries kept by Linley Sambourne, his wife Marion and their son Roy
- Legal and financial papers
- Letters
- Family photographs
- Household bills and receipts
- Personal letters
- Victorian and Edwardian ephemera

Furnishings of Sambourne House

- Furniture
- Ceramics
- Prints, paintings and drawings
- Objet d'art
- Textiles

It should be noted that the online catalogue does not contain reference to any uncatalogued material. Please contact us if you want to see something you think is held by us at either museum but you cannot find reference to online.

The online catalogue also contains records relating to material held at other institutions, which is of direct relevance to our collection – particularly drawings and studies by Frederic Leighton identified as part of the Leighton Drawings Project, completed in 2007. The repository field in the record will plainly state if it the item is held by Leighton House, Sambourne House or other institution.