Tag Archives: Leighton House Museum

The Arab Hall in Lord Leighton’s House

“Of all the Arab Halls in all the towns in all the world…”

…this is my favorite.

I’ve spent hours in this room, in what was once the Holland Park home of Sir Frederic Leighton. The house is a museum now—I’ve posted about the current Alma-Tadema exhibition, which is taking place there—and I visit it whenever I’m in London, which is never often enough.

And now you can visit too, in a way. I’ve just found some gorgeous 360-degrees panoramic views of many of the rooms in the Leighton House Museum.

Clicking this link will take you to the museum’s Reception area.  From there, you can travel directly to the Arab Hall, or take a narrated tour through the rest of the house.

It’s a great place to visit, and I’d really love to live there.


Alma-Tadema at Leighton House Museum — A Brief Follow-Up

The Alma-Tadema: At Home in Antiquity exhibition opened in London today, and the Leighton House Museum has just released this teaser.

I posted an item with some background information about Alma-Tadema, Lord Leighton, and this exhibition a few days ago, but, as my grandmother used to say, one video is worth a thousand words. Especially when the video is this well done.

The show will run from 7 July 2017 through 29 October 2017.

Alma-Tadema Returns to Leighton House Museum

There are two places I always visit when I’m in London: The Victoria and Albert Museum and the Leighton House Museum in Holland Park. The V&A describes itself, accurately, as “the world’s leading museum of art and design.” It’s easily my favourite museum in this world, or any other. The Leighton House Museum is the former home and studio of Victorian artist Frederic, Lord Leighton, whose painting “Flaming June,” is one of the crowning achievements of 19th Century British art.

“Flaming June,” just because I can never pass up an opportunity to post it.

“Flaming June,” just because I can never pass up an opportunity to post it.

It’s an old, sad story. After the turn of the 20th century, Victorian artists like Leighton fell out of favour with both the critics and the public. And few of them fell so fast and so far as Leighton’s friend, Lawrence Alma-Tadema. By the 1960s, Alma-Tadema’s “The Finding of Moses,” the picture at the top of this note, was cut out of its frame by a gallery, because a buyer was only interested in the elaborate frame itself.

In a way, Alma-Tadema got a belated revenge: Fifty years later, the painting sold for $35,900,000.

If I can work out the last few bugs on the time machine that I’ve been tinkering with, my first stop will be the 1950s, to stock up on Pre-Raphaelite paintings and Tiffany lamps.

Beginning this weekend, the Leighton House Museum is hosting an exhibition called Alma-Tadema: At Home in Antiquity, which includes more than 130 works. Here’s a sample:

"The Roses of Heliogabalus,” posted for the same reason I posted “Flaming June.”

“The Roses of Heliogabalus,” posted for the same reason I posted “Flaming June.”

The show will run from 7 July 2017 through 29 October 2017. As if anyone needed another reason to go to London.

Miracle Nightmare on Seventh Street”

I kept going back to those pictures of the Cherry Blossom Pop-Up Bar that I posted yesterday, trying to figure out why they seemed so familiar. Sometime this morning, I finally made the connection.

They reminded me of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema’s “The Roses of Heliogabalus”, which I saw at the Leighton House Museum the last time I was in London.

There’s a grim story behind the bright, pretty scene portrayed in “The Roses of Heliogabalus”. According to legend, the Roman emperor Heliogabalus (sometimes known as Elagabalus) had a false ceiling installed over his dining room, and filled the space above it with rose petals. When the ceiling was released, the mass of petals would fall to earth, smothering his unwanted guests.

Since the mass murder of barroom patrons is frowned upon by the Liquor Control Board, I have no doubt that the management of the Cherry Blossom Pop-Up Bar will stick to the more traditional way of letting its clientele know when it’s time to go, by blinking the lights and shouting “Last Call!”

Still, it might be a good idea to leave a little early, just in case.

“Flaming June” Returns to Leighton House

“Flaming June”,  Frederic, Lord Leighton’s greatest painting, has come home, but only for a visit.

“‘Flaming June’, Leighton’s masterpiece and one of the most celebrated paintings of 19th century British art, returns to the house where it was painted alongside the other paintings that the artist and President of the Royal Academy, submitted for the Summer Exhibition in 1895, only a few months before he died.”

—Leighton House Museum

The painting was exhibited at The Frick Collection in New York during the summer of 2015. Frick Senior Curator Susan Grace Galassi talks about the history and significance of “Flaming June” in this brief video:

The Leighton House showing began last November, and will run through March 2017. The museum is offering a full schedule of events, including  workshops, tours, musical performances, and a multi-media play in Leighton’s studio exploring the relationship between the artist and Dorothy Dene, his model, muse and confidante.

Leighton House Museum

Whenever I’m in London, I visit two locations: The Victoria and Albert Museum, and Leighton House. The V&A is the world’s leading museum of decorative arts and design, and the Leighton House Museum is…something else.

The great glory of Leighton House is the Arab Room, pictured above. I’ve spent hours there. I plan to spend hours more in the future.

Leighton House was the Holland Park home and studio of Frederic, Lord Leighton, who lived there alone for more than 30 years. As the most famous British artist of the late 19th century and the President of the Royal Academy of Arts, he entertained many of the most eminent Victorians in the Arab Room, including, in 1859, Queen Victoria herself.

Note: The current header for this blog is a detail from Leighton’s “Cimabue’s Celebrated Madonna is carried in Procession through the Streets of Florence”.

The Last of Leighton

And now we’ve reached the end of the Leighton House-Ram Shergill collaboration, in which Shergill mapped selected paintings by Sir Frederic Leighton to his own work as a fashion photographer.  It’s made for some thought-provoking combinations.

I wrote yesterday that the match-ups seemed to be getting more literal as the week went along. Not today.  The only common element I see here is draped fabric.

“Looking at Leighton’s ‘Colour Sketch for Countess Brownlow’ from a fashion perspective, the fabric seems soft and sensual, almost like a sari, draped in a skillful way.  Perhaps the Countess travelled and took inspiration from the British Raj?   Or perhaps Lord Leighton had just traveled to Greece and returned with wonderfully fine cottons? Flowing gowns nipped tightly at the waist with a band can be seen on many runways today.  Alexander Wang and Herve Leger have predominantly showcased monochrome collections.  We can only wait for what Chanel might have in store for this year’s Paris Fashion Week.”
—Ram Shergill

The Five Days in Review

This Time, Sir Frederic Leighton Meets Alexander McQueen

The London Fashion Week collaboration between the Leighton House Museum and British fashion photographer Ram Shergill continues.   Shergill has been coupling his own photographic works with specific paintings by Leighton.  This is the fourth of five match-ups.

They seem to be getting more literal.

“I particularly like this image of Leighton’s ‘Head of an Italian model’ as it has a certain realness about it.  I love the darkness of it as it takes me right back to the time when I first started photography.  There is something quite dark and macabre about this portrait.The image reminds me of when Alexander McQueen showed me some of his art and photography books and said that he was into ‘the macabre’ – something that mesmerized me.  This image captures a ‘sensual’ macabre for me as it is a magnificent portrait of a beautiful profile. But there also seems to be something sinister in the way the subject is looking up as if to pray, or to perhaps reflect on something that he has done or is intending to do.  Since meeting McQueen, my work has always contained this edge. The palette is similar to some of the great paintings by Caravaggio who has inspired various works by me.  The lighting lends itself to the display of light-coloured fabrics in combination with the pale skin tones of the human body.”

—Ram Shergill

I spent the first two weeks of Spring in London this year, and one of the things that influenced my choice of time and location was the scheduling of two exhibitions that I really wanted to see: A Leighton House exhibition of 50 pictures from the Pérez Simón Collection, including Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema’ s “The Roses of Heliogabalus”, was in its final days…

…and an Alexander McQueen retrospective was opening at my favourite museum, the V&A.

It never occurred to me to link the two.