As logistics would have it, I ended up exiting the tube (subway/metro) at Holland Park and thought that I would walk south to the museum. I do not know much about London and it was a lovely day for taking a walk anyway. Holland Park is a charming little getaway when one needs a Nature fix. And they have a pretty good public sculpture collection started that enhanced my stroll.
I must say that I found it difficult to locate street signs in London. However, sometimes I missed “the obvious” because the signs were large and low, so it very well could just have been my training to look up. However, on this pair of signs shown, I must ask you, which side is the actual Abbotsbury Road?
I have also decided that the Lord Leighton House just might be one of London’s best kept secrets. It was a little difficult to find (my map was too simplified and I do not own a smart phone with GPS or online access). More than half of the locals I asked for directions as I neared had no idea of what I was asking about. The two who did told me that it was worth the search.
Allora, as you enter the ground floor (after paying a seven British Pound fee, there are five rooms, one being a square sort of corridor that houses the wide staircase and shows off a stuffed male peacock. Beyond that is a “red room” that appeared to be a possible dining room [no photo here]. A large and fairly empty room with an out-jutting area for sitting. I actually do not remember seeing a kitchen.
The main attraction on that floor is the chapel. Or Turkish bath? Anyway, you can tell where the artist’s taste lies. It is pretty impressive and I wondered what it was like to live with such a space…fancier than any place that I have ever lived.
To the left of that gorgeous room is a more English-looking study. I love sketches and was thrilled that this image turned out. [No photos are permitted at all in the home.] You may see the figure for the Flaming June on the back left. I love sketches.. in fact, I often like the preparatory sketches better than the final painting. I have yet to pin down exactly why, but in general, the sketches seem more touchable.
Once up the stairs, this exotic sitting space overlooking the Turkish room is the first one you see. And having lived in Florence, Italy, so long, it is impossible not to know who is the monk Savonarola. However, I had no idea that he has a chair named after him!
To the left is another sitting room with a fireplace (and peacock feathers sit in front of it). I especially enjoy this circular composition by Frederic Leighton, Boy Saving a Baby from the Clutches of an Eagle, c. 1850-1852. I found his slightly odd play of shadows over the figures interesting and I enjoy how the boy and the eagle fill the space with sort of parallel diagonals.
The bedroom is sparsely furnished, but I am not sure if it is because this is not the original furniture and they kept things minimal or if the artist truly lived this simply. The Web site says that Lord Leighton lived alone in that huge house, so that may explain the single bed as well. No need for clutter in a space that large for only one man.
Looking back into the stairway,
one sees some truly lovely paintings. I
was especially enchanted with the one of the old bearded man (father, doctor?)
hovering over a reclining boy.
And finally we move into the
studio.. how grande! And I love the warm
colors. Most of Lord Leighton’s art is
NOT in this house anymore. I guess that
is one of the perks of being famous.
However, I still enjoyed my visit.
I was intrigued by the ceiling
window. It looks as if there are various
configurations possible up there for having or not having a certain light enter
the room. I wanted to know more . . . Note also at the end I show you two snapshots
of the large lawn in the back of the house.
I do not know much about London, but I suspect that is some costly real
estate! When I left, I walked along the
Kensington area and took a bus down to Trafalgar Square… but likely I will
write about my visit to the National Gallery in my next art newsletter (go to
my site http://BorsheimArts.com to sign
up for THAT subscription).
To read more about the Leighton House and Studio, as well as connected museums, check out:
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