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Lord Leighton

 

Lord Leighton

The Right Honourable
The Lord Leighton
PRA
Self portrait of Leighton (1880)
Born (1830-12-03)3 December 1830
Scarborough, England
Died 25 January 1896(1896-01-25) (aged 65)
London, England
Field painting and sculpture
Training Eduard Von Steinle
Movement Academicism
Works Flaming June
Awards Prix de Rome, Légion d'honneur

Frederic Leighton, 1st Baron Leighton PRA (3 December 1830 – 25 January 1896), known as Sir Frederic Leighton between 1878 and 1896, was an English painter and sculptor. His works depicted historical, biblical and classical subject matter. Leighton was bearer of the shortest-lived peerage in history; after only one day his hereditary peerage ended with his death.[1]

Biography

Leighton was born in Scarborough to a family in the import and export business. He was educated at University College School, London. He then received his artistic training on the European continent, first from Eduard von Steinle and then from Giovanni Costa. When he was 24 he was in Florence; he studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti, and painted the procession of the Cimabue Madonna through the Borgo Allegri. From 1855 to 1859 he lived in Paris, where he met Ingres, Delacroix, Corot and Millet.


In 1860, he moved to London, where he associated with the Pre-Raphaelites. He designed Elizabeth Barrett Browning's tomb for Robert Browning in the English Cemetery, Florence in 1861. In 1864 he became an associate of the Royal Academy and in 1878 he became its President (1878–96). His 1877 sculpture, Athlete Wrestling with a Python, was considered at its time to inaugurate a renaissance in contemporary British sculpture, referred to as the New Sculpture. His paintings represented Britain at the great 1900 Paris Exhibition.

Leighton was knighted at Windsor in 1878, and was created a baronet, of Holland Park Road in the Parish of St Mary Abbots, Kensington, in the County of Middlesex, eight years later.[2] He was the first painter to be given a peerage, in the New Year Honours List of 1896. The patent creating him Baron Leighton, of Stretton in the County of Shropshire, was issued on 24 January 1896;[3] Leighton died the next day of angina pectoris.

Leighton remained a bachelor and rumours of his having an illegitimate child with one of his models in addition to the supposition that Leighton may have been homosexual continue to be debated today.[4] He certainly enjoyed an intense and romantically tinged relationship with the poet Henry William Greville whom he met in Florence in 1856.[5] The older man showered Leighton in letters, but the romantic affection seems not to have been reciprocated. Enquiry is furthermore hindered by the fact that Leighton left no diaries and his letters are telling in their lack of reference to his personal circumstances. No definite primary evidence has yet come to light that effectively dispels the secrecy that Leighton built up around himself. Although it's clear that he did court a circle of younger men around his artistic studio.[6]

After his death his Barony was extinguished after existing for only a day; this is a record in the Peerage. His house in Holland Park, London has been turned into a museum, the Leighton House Museum. It contains a number of his drawings and paintings, as well as some of his former art collection including works by Old Masters and his contemporaries such as a painting dedicated to Leighton by Sir John Everett Millais. The house also features many of Leighton's inspirations, including his collection of Iznik tiles. Its centrepiece is the magnificent Arab Hall. The Hall is featured in issue ten of Cornucopia.[7]

A blue plaque commemorates Leighton at Leighton House Museum.[8]

Leighton was an enthusiastic volunteer soldier, enrolling with the first group to join the 38th Middlesex (Artists) Rifle Volunteers (later to be known as The Artists Rifles) on 5 October 1860. His qualities of leadership were immediately identified and he was promoted to command A Company within a few months. On 6 January 1869 Captain Leighton was elected to command The Artists Rifles by a general meeting of the Corps. In the same year he was promoted to Major and in 1875 to Lieutenant Colonel. Leighton resigned as Commanding Officer in 1883. The painter James Whistler famously described the then, Sir Frederic Leighton, the Commanding Officer of The Artists Rifles, as the: “Colonel of the Royal Academy and the President of the Artists Rifles – aye, and he paints a little!" At his funeral, on 3 February 1896, his coffin was carried into St Paul's Cathedral, past a guard of honour formed by The Artists Rifles.[9]

Honours timeline


Selected works

  • Death of Brunelleschi (1852), oil on canvas
  • The Fisherman and the Siren, c. 1856–58 (66.3 x 48.7 cm)
  • Cimabue's Celebrated Madonna is carried in Procession through the Streets of Florence (1853–55),[10] oil on canvas. This was his first major work and was exhibited at the Royal Academy. Queen Victoria was so taken with it that she bought it for 600 guineas on the opening day of the exhibition.
  • The Discovery of Juliet Apparently Lifeless (c.1858)[11]
  • The Villa Malta, Rome (1860s),[12] oil on canvas
  • The Painter's Honeymoon, c. 1864 (83.8 x 77.5 cm)
  • Mother and Child, c. 1865, (48.2 x 82 cm)
  • Actaea, the Nymph of the Shore (1868),[13] oil on canvas, (57.2 x 102.2 cm) National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa.
  • Daedalus and Icarus, c. 1869, (138.2 x 106.5 cm)
  • Hercules Wrestling with Death for the Body of Alcestis (1869–71) (132.4 x 265.4 cm)
  • Greek Girls Picking up Pebbles by the Sea, 1871 (84 x 129.5 cm)
  • Teresina (circa 1874) Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, Christchurch, New Zealand
  • Music Lesson, c. 1877, (92.8 x 118.1 cm)
  • An Athlete Wrestling with a Python (1877),[14] bronze sculpture
  • Nausicaa, c. 1878 (145 x 67 cm)
  • Winding the Skein, c. 1878, (100.3 x 161.3 cm)
  • Light of the Harem, c. 1880, (152.4 x 83.8 cm)
  • Idyll, c. 1880–81
  • Wedded, (c. 1881–1882) (145.4 x 81 cm)
  • Captive Andromache, c. 1888 (197 x 406.5 cm)
  • The Bath of Psyche, (c. 1889–90) (189.2 x 62.2 cm) Tate Gallery
  • The Garden of the Hesperides, c. 1892, (169 x 169 cm)
  • Flaming June (1895), oil on canvas, Museo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico (120.6 x 120.6 cm)
  • The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins (Fresco)[15]
  • The armlet
  • Phoebe (55.88 x 60.96 cm)
  • A Bather
  • The Leighton Frescoes, The Arts of Industry as Applied to War and The Arts of Industry as Applied to Peace

Gallery

See also

References

External links

  • Frederic-Leighton.org 114 works by Frederic Leighton
  • Advice to Young Artist's by Frederick Lord Leighton high resolution images
  • Frederic Leighton Art
  • Scarborough, Birthplace of Lord Frederic Leighton
  • Leighton House Museum
  • Obituary from The Times
  • Leighton Gallery at MuseumSyndicate
Cultural offices
Preceded by
Sir Francis Grant
President of the Royal Academy
1878–1896
Succeeded by
Sir John Everett Millais, Bt
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baron Leighton
1896
Extinct
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baronet
(of Holland Park Road)
1886–1896
Extinct

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