Lord Frederick Leighton


Lord Leighton in his studio
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Name:Lord Frederick Leighton

Dates:1830 - 1896


Address: Leighton House, 12 Holland Park Road , W14

Dates at address:1866 - 1896


Son of Dr Frederic Leighton and Augusta Susan, Leighton’s early years were spent travelling Europe. Enrolled at University College School he actually studied at numerous schools across Europe, including the great art institutions of Italy and Germany. He settled first in Rome and then Paris before coming to London in 1859.

His first two paintings in 1855 had mixed fortunes. The Reconciliation was a failure. Cimabue’s Madonna, on display at the Royal Academy, enjoyed massive critical success and was sold to Queen Victoria. Its only critics were John Ruskin and Dante Rossetti. He remained an outsider for many years, not standing for election to his beloved Academy until 1861 and not getting elected until 1864. After that things improved and his paintings and sculptures became popular, some becoming best-selling photogravure reproductions for the mass market. His election as president of the Academy in 1878 marked the high point of his popularity.

Leighton’s first house in London was 2 Orme Square, Bayswater and he created much of his early work there. After his election to the Academy in 1864 he commissioned George Aitchison to build Leighton House, his famous villa on Holland Park Road. He moved there in 1866 and a great artistic community grew up around him; Watts and Prinsep were his immediate neighbours. He died here in 1896 and his last words, heard by Dorothy Dene, were, “My love to the Academy”.

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