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Visit to Leighton House

26 January @ 11:00 am - 12:30 pm

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Leighton House is the former home of leading Victorian artist, Frederic, Lord Leighton (1830-1896), showcasing an exceptional collection of Victorian art throughout a unique suite of interiors, including the magnificent Arab Hall and Narcissus Hall. The house is now Grade II* listed and is noted for its elaborate Orientalist and Aesthetic interiors. From its first construction in the 1860s up until shortly before Leighton’s death, his studio-house on the edge of Holland Park was a constant preoccupation. Absorbing large amounts of his time and money, the house combined spaces for living, working and entertaining and the display of Leighton’s collections. Regularly featured in the press, his home came to embody the idea of how a great artist should live.

The architect George Aitchison was commissioned to design the house, despite never having designed any houses, as his family practice had specialised in wharves, warehouses, docks and railway architecture. Externally, the new house was strikingly plain, with little ornament or embellishment. However, within three years of the house being completed, Leighton undertook the first of what would be a series of extensions and alterations that would last 30 years.

Leighton often travelled to Turkey, Egypt and Syria and collected textiles, pottery, tiles and other objects that were later to be displayed in his house. Moreover, Aitchison and Leighton brought together a group of their contemporaries to contribute to the decor – the potter William De Morgan, the art worker Walter Crane, the sculptor Edgar Boehm and the artist and illustrator Randolph Caldecott. 

The last addition to the house, the Silk Room, was completed only in the months before Leighton’s death. It was designed as a picture gallery to house Leighton’s collection of paintings by his contemporaries and various members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood: Albert Moore, John Everett Millais, George Frederic Watts, John Singer Sargent, Edward Burne-Jones and Lawrence Alma-Tadema, as well as 81 oil paintings by Leighton himself.

The de Morgan Café overlooks the gardens and can be visited either before or after our guided tour. 

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