Leighton House Museum
Leighton House Museum is the former home and studio of the leading Victorian artist, Frederic, Lord Leighton (1830-1896). It is unique among the capital’s museums in combining an exceptional collection of Victorian art with the intimacy of a private home.
The house was designed by his great friend, the architect George Aitchison RA as a showcase for artistic taste and to entertain and impress the foremost artists, collectors and celebrities of the day. Not to be missed is Leighton’s painting studio on the first floor, with its large north-facing window, picture slot and screen. Leighton produced all the works of his mature career in this room, including the iconic Flaming June which is now at the Museo de Arte Ponce, Puerto Rico.
Frederic Leighton was born in Scarborough, Yorkshire in 1830 to a wealthy medical family, the second of three children. At an early age he showed an interest in drawing, and went on to study art on the continent, despite his parents’ early reservations about his choice of career. Leighton did undeniably succeed – Queen Victoria bought his first major painting in 1855, and in 1878 he reached the pinnacle of his profession, with his election as President of the Royal Academy of Arts. He also received numerous international honours and was highly regarded by his peers.
However, the man himself remains something of an enigma. His private life was closely guarded – he lived alone, travelled alone and left no diaries. Even his letters make little reference to his personal circumstances. Just before his death in 1896, Leighton was ennobled, becoming Baron Leighton of Stretton. He is the only British artist to have been awarded this honour and is buried in St. Paul’s Cathedral.