VISIT: Leighton House Museum - Where East meets West
Former studio-house of artist Frederic, Lord Leighton.
Leighton House Museum is the former home of the Victorian artist Frederic, Lord Leighton (1830-1896). The only purpose-built studio-house open to the public in the United Kingdom, it is one of the most remarkable buildings of the nineteenth century, containing a fascinating collection of paintings and sculpture by Leighton and his contemporaries.
Built to Leighton’s precise requirements, the house was extended and embellished over the 30 years that he lived in it. From modest beginnings it grew into a ‘private palace of art’ featuring the extraordinary Arab Hall with its golden dome, intricate mosaics and walls lined with beautiful Islamic tiles. Upstairs, Leighton’s vast painting studio was one of the sights of London, filled with paintings in different stages of completion, the walls hung with examples of his work and lit by a great north window. Many of the most prominent figures of the Victorian age were entertained in this room; including Queen Victoria herself who called on Leighton in 1859. But Leighton lived alone in his palace, occupying the house’s only bedroom on the first floor.
Leighton House Museum is surrounded by a group of other studio-houses, all of which were built during the second half of the nineteenth century. This group provides a unique insight into the wealth, status and taste of successful artists in the late-Victorian period.
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