Restoring Leighton’s historic house
Follow our recent restoration and conservation works on the historic interiors of Frederic Leighton’s Victorian home
As part of the transformative project Hidden Gem to National Treasure, continued efforts are being made to restore the historic house as Leighton left it, both through new acquisitions as well as conservation and restoration works.
As well as the reintegration of Leighton’s original entrance hall and winter studio into the sequence of historic interiors, other restoration works throughout the house will sustain the museum through the 21st century.
We’ll be sharing further updates about these works in the coming months. For all the latest news about our museums, sign up to our e-newsletter.
Tintoretto installation: Restoring the entrance hall
As part of the museum's plans to reintegrate the entrance hall back into the sequence of historic interiors, in July 2022 a large painting from the workshop of Domenico Tintoretto (1594-1635) was installed back to its original location, after a number of years hanging in Leighton's Library.
Returning to the same spot where it hung during Leighton's lifetime, the entrance hall was used by Leighton as a space to receive visitors and business callers. Having functioned for the past few years as the museum's reception and shop space, the reinstatement of Leighton's entrance hall and winter studio will complete the presentation of the house as he left it.
Depicting a Doge (possibly Antonio Grimani) kneeling before a vision of the holy trinity, this painting originally would have hung in a church in Venice, and in the foreground on the left is a portrait of the donor who commissioned it. The picture was one of a pair, but sadly its companion piece was sold following Leighton’s death and is now untraced.
Gold leaf gilding: Restoring the drawing room ceiling roundel
Now looking back to its best and gleaming self, in May 2022 approximately 350 leaves of 23 & ¾ carat gold leaf were used to restore the gilded ceiling roundel in the drawing room of Leighton House.
Using a centuries old technique, the project was led by Angel Interiors - the same team who completed the monumental task of re-gilding the dome of the Arab Hall in 2009.
Inside the gilded roundel is a 1987 copy of a Sketch for La Paix Vient Consoler les Hommes by Delacroix, which formed part of Leighton's original collection and for which Leighton had the ceiling in the Drawing Room specially designed to accommodate. After his death in 1896 the painting was sold along with the rest of his collection. The copy now in Leighton House was created in 1987 by artist Timothy Rukavina, with the original now in the Petit Palais, Musée des Beaux-arts de la Ville de Paris.
Watch our short video to see the gilding transformation in action.