3 December: Frederic Leighton (FL) born at 13
Brunswick Terrace, Scarborough, Yorkshire, the son of Dr Frederic
Septimus Leighton and Augusta Susan Nash.
Death of FL's grandfather, Sir James Leighton, one time
Physician to the Court of the Tsars at St Petersburg. FL's
father moves his family to London, where they live until 1838 at 22
Argyle Street, off the Gray's Inn Road.
FL's father resumes his medical practice.
FL's father is appointed lecturer in forensic medicine at the
Middlesex Hospital, a post he holds until 1841. The family
move to 7 Upper Gower Street. FL enrols at University College
The family travels to Paris. FL suffers an attack of
FL's mother suffers a bout of rheumatic fever, which permanently
affects her heart. This may have been the immediate reason
for the long Continental tours that the family begins to make from
about this time. The family visits Rome. FL is given
drawing lessons by one Francesco Meli. The family returns to
London for the winter of 1840-41, so that FL can continue at
University College School.
The family travels through Germany, Switzerland and Italy.
FL takes lessons in art in Florence and makes drawings from nature;
he also visits galleries in a number of cities. He learns to
The summer is spent at the house of FL's late paternal
grandfather at Greenford, Middlesex. In London, FL attends
classes at University College School. Later, the family
returns to Germany; during the winter of 1842-3, FL enrols at the
Academy of Art in Berlin.
The family lives in Munich, and then in Frankfurt, remaining
there until 1845. FL enrols at Stellwag's Academy, a school
in the Hochstrasse.
The family moves to Florence. FL does not visit London as
he had hoped to do. The American sculptor Hiram Powers
encourages Dr Leighton to allow FL to become an artist. FL
enrols at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence under the tuition
of the masters Giuseppe Bezzuoli and Benedetto Servolini. He
is taught anatomy by Ferdinando Zanetti.
During the early summer the family leaves Florence and returns
to Germany. FL's father buys a large house in the
Bockenheimerlandstrasse in Frankfurt, which becomes the family
home. FL seems to have visited England that summer. In
October he becomes a student at the Stadelsches Kunstinstitut in
Frankfurt, then under the directorship of the Nazarene artist
FL is living and working as a student at the Stadelsches
Kunstinstitut in Frankfurt. In the spring he progresses to
the second class, where he draws from the life and is taught by the
landscape painter Jacob Becker.
The political upheavals of 1848 drive the family from Frankfurt;
they retreat first to Brussels, where FL establishes a studio and
makes contacts with artists; then to Paris. The family does
not return to Frankfurt until 1850.
FL travels with his family to Paris, where he spends several
months. FL makes a series of landscape drawings and
watercolours. Attends the atelier of Alexandre Dupuis and
also studies and copies paintings in the Louvre. Spends some
time in London, where he paints a portrait of his great-uncle and
meets various contemporary English artists.
FL exhibits Cimabue Finding Giotto in the Fields of
Florence in Frankfurt, which he had begun in Brussels.
He returns to Frankfurt from Paris and re-enrols at the Stadelsches
Kunstinstitut. Meets Edward von Steinle, appointed director
of the school this year. Makes his first attempt at 'plein
air' landscape subjects. Friendship with Enrico Gamba, a
Piedmontese art student.
FL visits London, meeting various contemporary artists,
including Willaim Powell Frith and E.M. Ward. Visits the
Great Exhibition in Hyde Park. Later stays in Bath with his
grandmother, Lady Leighton (with whom there had been little contact
while his grandfather was alive, as the two had
FL's father takes a house in Bath, so as to be close to his
mother. During the summer, FL returns to Germany, via
Amsterdam and The Hague. Leaves Frankfurt on 11 August,
travelling down the Rhine in the company of Steinle, with whom he
visits the collection of Nazarene art at Sift Neuberg. FL and
Steinle part at Bregenz on Lake Constance. FL travels on
alone through the Austian Tyrol and northern Italy to Verona,
where he meets up with Enrico Gamba. The two stay in Venice
and then travel down through Italy, arriving in Rome on 19
First meeting with the painters George Heming Mason and Giovanni
Costa who would remain life-long friends. An enduring
friendship with the retired opera singer Adelaide Sartoris
commences in February. Other friendships made in Rome are
with George Aitchison (later to design his house in Holland Park),
and the architects William Burges and Alfred Waterhouse.
Meets and befriends many other artists including Edward Perugini,
Bouguereau and Gerome. FL travels to Germany seeking
treatment for eye strain. The last summer the Leighton family
spend in Frankfurt before moving to Bath where Dr Leighton has
bought a house at 9 The Circus.
Early in January, FL back in Rome, installs himself in studio in
Via Felice. Works on his two 'debut' pictures, Cimabue's
Celebrated Madonna and The Reconciliation of the Montagues
and the Capulets. FL meets Robert Browing. In
July, FL escapes the heat of Rome to join Mrs Sartoris and her
party at Bagni di Lucca for the summer.
In Rome until May; travels to Paris to see the Exposition
Universelle where his Reconciliation of the Montagues and
Capulets is shown. Then on to London to view Royal
Academy exhibition where Cimabue's Celebrated Madonna has
caused a sensation and been bought by Queen Victoria on the opening
day of the exhibition. FL spends most of the summer in
London; also visits his family in Bath. Later in the summer
he moves to Paris where he will spend much of the next three years,
taking studio at 21 rue Pigalle.
FL in Paris at start of the year. Later he travels to
Frankfurt and then on, via the Austrian Tyrol and Venice to Rome
where he arrives in October. Later in the year he returns to
London, travelling by sea to Marseilles and then overland via
Spends the early part of the year in Paris. Presumably
visits England in the spring to attend the marriage of his
sister. In London again in the summer. Visits Algiers
in September. Opens an account with the bank Coutts
Meets and becomes friendly with Augusta Hoare, wife of Sir Henry
Ainslie Hoare of the banking family. Starts work on her
portrait. Takes a studio at Keppel St, Bloomsbury, London and
begins to get to know a wider circle of English artists including
the Pre-Raphaelites. Visits Bath and later in the year
returns to Rome, using his old studio in the Via delle
Purificazione. In November works on a series of pictures from
the model Nanna Risi.
Spends the spring in Rome, completing the Nanna series during
February. Then travels to Capri where he remains for five
weeks producing his drawing the Lemon Tree and a number of
other drawings and sketches in oil. Travels to London and
takes a house and studio at 2 Orme Square. Joins the Artist's
Rifles Volunteer Corps. Later visits Scotland. Goes
back to Italy in October and then to Greece.
Back at Orme Square by the end of the year
and London will be his base for the rest of his life.
Publications of illustrations by FL, to accompany Elizabeth
Barret Browning's The Great God Pan. Visits the
Sartoris family at their house, Westbury in Hampshire. Visits
the Isle of Wight and the West Country.
Death of Elizabeth Barret Browning. FL designs her tomb in
the Protestant Cemetery in Florence. His paintings are badly hung
at Royal Academy but well reviewed. Makes summer trip through
south-west England staying at Salisbury, Exeter, Bideford,
Clovelly, Ilfracombe and Lynton.
Six paintings accepted at the Academy; two are rejected.
Makes illustrations for George Eliot's Romola for the
Cornhill Magazine. In April starts designing his
fresco mural The Wise and Foolish Virgins for the newly
built parish church of St Michael & All Angels, Lyndhurst,
Hampshire. Begins painting in the church in August.
Travels to Italy, making sketches of architecture and
During the summer works on The Wise and Foolish Virgins
using the Sartoris' house, Westbury as a base. Invited to
stay at Sandringham by the Prince of Wales. In autumn, FL
stays with the Marquise de l'Aigle at Francport near Compiegne
(a sojourn that is described by Adelaide Sartoris in her novel
A Week in a French Country House of 1867).
In February visits Paris. In the summer elected an
Associate of the Royal Academy. Commissions George Aitchison
to build the house in Holland Park in which he will spend the rest
of his life. September in Italy, travelling to Venice,
Brescia and Verona and later goes on to Florence to inspect the
work in progress on the tomb of Elizabeth Barret Browning.
Death of FL's mother in the spring at her house in Bath, FL is
staying at Sandringham, Norfolk at the time.
Visits Spain, making sketches of architecture in Toledo, Seville
and Cordoba. In the autumn in Rome and goes painting in the
Campagna with Giovanni Costa and William Blake Richmond. FL
moves into his new house and is elected to the Athenaeum Club.
Visits Asia Minor and the eastern Mediterranean, travelling out
through Vienna and along the Danube to Constantinople, then on to
Broussa, Smyrna, Rhodes and Lindos. Stays in Athens and
returns via Venice.
FL elected full Royal Academician, following the summer
exhibition. In autumn he travels to Greece and then on to
Egypt where he goes up the Nile in a steamer lent by the Viceroy,
Serves on the Hanging Committee of the Royal Academy Summer
Exhibition. Becomes involved in the Royal Academy Winter
Exhibitions. In August visits Vichy in company of Adelaide
Sartoris, Algernon Swinburne and Richard Burton. Is elected
Visitor to the Royal Academy Schools. In December suffers
attack of rheumatism.
Work continues to be interrupted by ill health.
Commences work on the Arts of Industry murals at South
Kensington (Victoria and Albert) Museum. Exhibits three Nile
landscapes at the Society of British Artists. FL's portrait
painted by G.F. Watts and presented to him by the artist (now in
the collection at Leighton House Museum).
Works on The Arts of Industry as applied to War which
is to occupy him intermittently until 1879. During the winter
FL is in Rome with Adelaide Sartoris.
Works on The Arts of Industry as applied to Peace which
is to occupy him until 1885. In the autumn travels to
Damascus, Syria via Beirut. Meets the Rev William Wright and
with him starts to accumulate pottery and tiles.
Exhibits a group of studies and drawings including the Lemon
Tree (1859), at the Dudley Gallery. Visits Donegal in
Ireland, where he sketches the landscape.
George Frederic Watts moves into his 'Little Holland House' in
Melbury Road, becoming an immediate neighbour of FL.
The Daphnephoria, commissioned for the dining room at
Lythe Hill, the country house of James Stewart Hodgson, is
exhibited at the Royal Academy.
Sir Coutts Lindsay opens the first Grosvenor Gallery
exhibition. FL is invited to submit works, and does so each
year until 1882, and once more in 1885. The bronze sculpture
Athlete Wrestling with a Python appears at the Royal Academy and is
bought by the Chantrey Bequest. Commences construction of the
Arab Hall as the extension of his house in Holland Park Road.
Appointed President of the Jury on Paintings at the Exposition
Universelle in Paris. While in Paris he meets Edouard Manet
and visits his studio. In Italy with Giovanni Costa when the
death of Sir Francis Grant is announced. FL elected President
of the Royal Academy on 13 November. Receives and knighthood
and many international honours and diplomas follow.
FL first uses Dorothy Dene as a model and give his first Academy
Address. Sends a group of ten landscapes to the Grosvenor
Gallery. August: death of Adelaide Sartoris. FL
makes tour of Continent.
FL invited by Uffizi Gallery, Florence to submit a
self-portrait. In Italy with Costa.
Second Academy Address on the relationship between art, morality
and religion. Arab Hall extension completed at his home in
Through the agency of George Howard, encourages the trustees of
the National Gallery to buy paintings at the Hamilton Palace
sale. October, visits Cairo, Egypt.
FL becomes involved in the campaign to complete Alfred Steven's
memorial to the Duke of Wellington in St Paul's Cathedral.
Third Academy Address given on Egyptian and Greek art.
Visits Cornwall, where he takes an interest in the work of the
Newlyn school of painters, encouraging them to exhibit at the
Completes The Arts of Industry as Applied to Peace at
South Kensington. Fourth Academy lecture on Etruscan and
FL Created a Baronet.
Secures John Singer Sargent's Academy exhibit Carnation,
Lily, Lily, Rose for the Chantrey Bequest. Visits Spain
and in October in Italy with Costa. Fifth Academy Address on
Exhibits Captive Andromache, bought by Manchester City Art
Galleries for £6,000. In September visits the Dolomites.
Death of FL's long-time friend Robert Browning: FL serves
as a pall-bearer at the funeral. Exposition Universelle in
Paris: FL selects the paintings for the British
section. Travels in Spain to view works of art he wishes to
include in his sixth Academy Address devoted to Spanish art.
FL's portrait painted by G.F. Watts, Visits France to
study cathedral architecture in connection with his Academy
Selects the paintings for the British section of the Berlin
International Exhibition. Travels in Italy and delivers
seventh Academy Address in December on the subject of French
Death of FL's father. Exhibits various sketches and
landscapes and the Society of British Artist. Travels in
In October visits Germany and then travels on to Italy, to
Perguia to work on his Academy Address on the subject of German
FL awarded a gold medal by the Royal Institute of British
Architects. Attends the Wagner festival in Bayreuth with his
sister Augusta. Works on his mural 'Phoenicians Bartering
with Ancient Britons' for the Royal Exchange building.
Travels to Scotland and then Italy. Is back in England by
late October and suffers his first attack of angina on 29
FL is advised to step down from Royal Academy duties and to
travel abroad for his health. His final 'music' is held in
the studio that spring. Departs for North Africa spending
time in Tangier, Tlemcen and Algiers. Returns to London via
Paris but health remains uncertain. August travels to
Worcester and then on to Ireland touring through Dublin to Cork and
ultimately to Donegal. Returns to London but almost
immediately departs for Italy, travelling to Venice, Naples, Rome,
Florence and Siena.
FL is raised to the peerage as Baron Leighton of Stretton in the
New Years Honours List, the first artist ever to be honoured in
this way. Although he continues to work on his submission for
the Royal Academy until shortly before his death. On 25th
January dies at home in bed. In attendance are his two
sisters Alexandra and Augusta. His neighbour and friend Val
Prinsep and the artist Samuel Pepys Cockerell are also in
attendance. His coffin first lies in the studio an is then
taken to the Octagon Room at the Royal Academy where it lies in
state. On 3 February his funeral takes place at St Paul's
Cathedral. Clytie is exhibited at the Academy Summer
Exhibition. The contents of FL's studio and his collections
are sold at Christie's in July.
A memorial exhibition of Leighton's works is held at the Royal