Lord Frederic Leighton
"Give my love to all at the Academy."
- purported last words
Lord Frederick Leighton was born in 1830 in Scarborough, England. His family travelled extensively during his youth and he gained his general education and training in Rome, Frankfurt and Florence While he was still abroad, his first Royal Academy exhibit, Cimabue's celebrated Madonna carried in procession through the streets of Florence was bought by Queen Victoria, giving initial royal patronage to a long and successful career.
When Leighton settled in London in 1860, his work turned from biblical and medieval subjects to mythological and Hellenic themes, developing from his foreign experience a cosmopolitan academicism which exerted a strong influence on other British artists.
Leighton regarded himself as a very different school to that of the Pre-Raphaelites, yet was friends with many of them, and you can see many links between his Classicism and their style. His intensive early training and study on the Continent always gave to his paintings a highly professional and competent quality. His interest in the detailed depiction of soft drapery as it covers the human form shows his knowledge of classical sculpture. In later life he executed some sculpture himself, and was tremendously influential in raising the profile of sculpture in establishment circles.
He was made a member of the Royal Academy in 1869, and president in 1878, the same year he was knighted. In 1886 he was made a baronet, and then a baron just one day before his death (the first English painter to be so honoured). After his death in 1896, the Leighton Fund was set up to purchase/commission works of art for public places. Leighton House is open to the public and contains many studies and finished pictures. Also available for viewing are some of the many objects Leighton collected from abroad.
contributed by Gifford, Katya