Lord Leighton: Artist and Orientalist
Leighton House in Holland Park , London , was the home of Frederic Leighton, a leading Victorian artist , orientalist and collector.
It’s unique architecture , including Leighton’s studio , the Arab Hall and huge garden are now a museum,dedicated to Leighton’s life , his art and his collections.
Leighton’s grandfather was a physician to the Russian Czars and rewarded with a sizeable fortune . Urbane, cosmopolitan and speaking five languages ,Leighton had a private income and travelled for much of his life developing a love of the Middle East and North Africa in particular where he spent long periods.
Leighton was knighted when he became president of the Royal Academy in 1878 a position he held for almost 20 years.
One of Leighton’s most famous portraits was of celebrated explorer,Richard Burton, now hanging in London’s National Portrait Gallery.
It was Burton who helped Leighton source Islamic tiles from across the Middle East and North Africa, particularly from Damascus The tiles were re set in the Arab Hall especially constructed for the purpose.
Leighton was given a peerage in 1895 a month before his death at his home. His coffin lay in the house before his burial in St Paul’s Cathedral.
He remains the only occupant of Leighton House ,a unique home he created from a vacant block over half a century , which remains nearly 150 years later a memorial, a palace of art and a celebration of a fascinating artistic journey.