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Leighton's Interior of the Cappella Palatina acquired

Leighton House Museum is thrilled to announce that thanks to the unprecedented response to the Public Appeal campaign launched in September 2015, Leighton’s painting ‘Interior of the Cappella Palatina’ has now been acquired for the Museum’s permanent collections. We are grateful to everyone who donated, to the Arts Council England / Victoria and Albert Museum Purchase Grand Fund, the Friends of Leighton House and to Rupert Maas for his assistance in making the purchase possible.

The painting will be put on display at the close of the current exhibition at the end of May.

About the painting

Interior of the Cappella Palatina’, a previously untraced painting by Leighton, was probably painted in the 1870s, and depicts the interior of the Cappella Palatina in Palermo, Sicily.  The Cappella Palatina was built in the first half of the 12th century by the Norman king, Roger II, and is famous for the luminous gold Byzantine mosaics that line its walls. 

Leighton was very interested in architecture generally, but he seems to have been particularly anxious to accurately record the interior of this chapel. Although the study beautifully captures its atmosphere, with the play of light across the mosaics illuminating the east end of the chapel, Leighton took pains to faithfully represent all the architectural elements of the building and its decoration – even including a single figure standing on the left against a column to give a sense of scale.

Leighton’s Arab Hall was based on another 12th century interior at a palace called La Zisa, also at Palermo. This painting demonstrates how captivated he was by these interiors and how closely they inspired his own Arab Hall. This is why we were so keen to add this picture to the permanent collection; to make the connection between Leighton’s travels, his skills as a painter and the influences that were brought to bear on the design and construction of his extraordinary house. This picture makes these connections perfectly and will greatly enhance future visitors’ enjoyment of the house.


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