Widely associated with the Pre-Raphaelites, Lord Frederic Leighton produced some of the most beautiful classical artwork of the nineteenth-century. The Leighton House Museum is the original home of the artist and remains as one of the most astonishing buildings of the nineteenth-century. Housing a stunning collection of Victorian artwork, pieces of Leighton’s work and life are also embedded throughout the house.
Located on Holland Park Road in Kensington, Leighton lived in the Grade II listed home while it was being extended and decorated. From 1866-95, he saw it grow into an ornate piece of art. It is open to the public daily from 10 am – 5:30 pm but closed every Tuesday. Visitors will need to purchase an admission ticket on the door: adult prices are £9, concessions are £7 and under 18s and Art Fund Members can enter for free.
Although Leighton was best known for his artworks and sculptures, he was also deeply invested in architecture. He wanted his house to reflect his artwork so each room is aesthetically different and staggering. While working away in his studio, builders were just outside creating his homely vision. Interestingly, the only private space in the house was Leighton’s tiny single bedroom, contrasting to the other grand open rooms.
As a keen traveller with a strong fascination with the Middle East, Leighton’s most extraordinary development is the two-storey Arab Hall. Visitors are transported to another world upon entering the Islamic influenced rooms. The design was inspired by La Zisa in Palermo and is filled with ornate tiles, mosaic floors and friezes which glimmer under a gold gilded dome.
Originally there were a few reception rooms and a magnificent staircase leading to a huge studio on the first floor. That vast studio now displays Leighton’s paintings at different stages of their completion. Historically, Queen Victoria, who purchased Leighton’s first major painting, along with many other distinguished guests have been entertained in this grand room. Four extensions have been added since, such as the beautiful Silk Room.
You’ll be deceived by the outside of the building which looks like a typically nice Kensington townhouse but in no way reflects the opulence of the inside. Distinguishable by the blue plaque commemorating Leighton, it’s a hidden gem in the middle of Kensington. Along with works by other artists, including Millais, Watts and Sargent, the house even features a working fountain in the centre of a room!
Leighton House can be hired as a spectacular private venue. Whether for corporate events, private dinners, wedding receptions and educational seminars, or photography, film shoots and even concerts, Leighton House provides a unique setting that will add character to any occasion.
The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions and events that run at different periods throughout the year. Free events include musical performances by The Salomé Quartet and Dementia Friendly Workshops. However, tickets will be required for certain exhibitions and events, such as a talk from Yasmine Dorghamy concerning contemporary Egyptian art.
After you’ve had a look around the Leighton House Museum, drop into Aubaine Kensington to sample out authentic French cuisine.
Next up: The Tower House