Fundraising campaigns

Frederic Leighton, 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

Frederic Leighton, Interior of the Cappella PalatinaInterior 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.


Previous fundraising campaigns

Refurbishing the forecourt

Forecourt2In 1944, a Second World War bomb fell just outside Leighton House, demolishing the original gates, a section of the boundary wall and leaving a gaping hole where the front steps into the house had been. The damage was repaired but the original stone steps were rebuilt to a different configuration.  A wooden trellis that originally separated the front entrance from the servants’ entrance was lost and the two original gates, designed by the architect of the house, George Aitchison, were replaced by standard iron gates. The present iron gates and railings were installed in the early 1990s.

We are now seeking to raise £25,000 to reinstate the gates and trellis and rebuild the damaged front steps to conform to the surviving photographs of the original arrangements. Doing so will complete the restoration of the street façade of the house and greatly enhance the  environment of the museum, replacing the ‘institutional’ feel of the forecourt with the original domestic character that Leighton knew.  Make a donation.


Finishing the finial

Raised: £5000

On top of the dome of the Arab Hall is an iron finial featuring a modified symbol of a crescent moon. During the restoration of the museum in 2009-10 it was discovered that this finial, currently painted white, was original gilded. The finial is now once more gleaming above the dome of the Arab Hall.










Leighton's cabinet

Raised: £7000

Leighton's cabinet, around the world in 115 years. This cabinet has recently returned to the museum to stand in the precise spot it occupied up until 1896. The cabinet is now secured and a part of the permanent collections at Leighton House.

Leighton's Cabinet


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