Skip to main content
Leighton House Sambourne House

Autumn 2024: Leighton and Landscape

A major survey will present Leighton at his most experimental.

Frederic Leighton, View of Maqam al-Arba'in, Mount Qasioun, Damascus

Leighton and Landscape

16 November 2024 - 27 April 2025 at Leighton House


This first major exhibition of Frederic Leighton’s work will focus on the artist’s production of small en plein air landscape sketches, created between 1856 up until his death in 1896. An opportunity to see the celebrated Victorian artist in a new light – that of a spontaneous, experimental artist who took the road less well trodden by his contemporaries, documenting the people and places he encountered on his travels. Many of these delicate artworks will be returning to Leighton's house for the first time over 120 years.


Despite the beauty and significance of Leighton’s landscape sketches, there is little public awareness of them. This exhibition will bring together c.50 of these works from private and public collections to explore the position they occupied in his career, and what they say about him as an artist. Leighton’s landscape sketches connect his art, his travels throughout Europe, Middle East and North Africa and his home, bringing together much of what makes Leighton such an interesting figure.


Leighton at his most experimental

Seen together, the sketches demonstrate Leighton’s eye for intriguing views and surprising settings, where he generally avoided famous landmarks, instead seeking out a particular backstreet, hill, rock, or tree that caught his attention. Often employing small sized canvases, he was nevertheless  able to vividly encapsulate huge subjects and vistas. 


The exhibition will occupy three spaces at Leighton House, including the Drawing Room in the historic interiors, where the artist originally displayed his own collection of landscape painting. The Verey Exhibition Gallery will explore key characteristics of his practice as a landscapist,  showcasing innovative techniques and a rich use of light and colour as well as a keen interest in the relationship between architecture, sculpture and nature. In the Tavolozza Drawings Gallery, a entire display will be devoted to the island of Capri, where Leighton travelled in multiple occasions.


The exhibition has been co-curated by Dr. Pola Durajska. Dr Durajska completed a PhD thesis on Leighton’s landscape painting in 2021 and now works at auctioneers Bearnes, Hampton and Littlewood, Exeter.


Leighton and Landscape has been generously supported by The Finnis Scott Foundation and The Friends of Leighton House. The accompanying publication has been supported by a grant from The Albert Dawson Educational Trust.

"Leighton’s landscape paintings bring together a lot of what makes Leighton such a fascinating artist, namely his home, his travels and his skill as a draftsman. Working on the exhibition has revealed the importance of these small studies within his wider practice and presents new ways of looking at him as an artist.”
Hannah Lund, Curator of Exhibitions and Displays