Is This The Most Jaw-Dropping Room in London?

Leighton House, tucked away in Holland Park, was home to Lord Frederic Leighton, the Victorian artist.

Haven’t heard of him? You might recognise this painting of his called Flaming June from 1895;

Leighton House Arab Hall

But it’s his house i’m interested in…

Leighton House was built by and for Lord Leighton in the mid 1860s. It was planned as a place where he could live, work and host guests.

This was his studio;

Leighton House Arab Hall

Image Courtesy of Leighton House Museum © Will Pryce

It’s clearly designed for an artist. Just look at all that natural light pouring in!

But more than being purely functional, it was a space where Leighton could invite his friends and peers for a spot of networking, showing off his latest works and making his home a statement in itself.

There is one room in the house that is the most jaw-dropping of them all…

The Arab Hall

Leighton House Arab Hall

Image Courtesy of Leighton House Museum © Will Pryce

The building of the Arab Hall coincided with Leighton becoming president of the Royal Academy, so it became a symbol of his achievement and status. But it was also a bit of ‘art for art’s sake’, with Leighton saying he had built it

“… for the sake of looking at something beautiful every once in a while.”

A Closer Look

Leighton House Arab Hall

Image Courtesy of Leighton House Museum © Will Pryce

Inspired by the 12th century La Zisa Palace in Sicily, Leighton amasseed a huge amount of Islamic tiles, employing William De Morgan to create a suitable design accompanied by Walter Crane’s friezes along the top.

Leighton House Arab Hall

Image Courtesy of Leighton House Museum © Will Pryce

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The Arab Hall was purely intended as an atmospheric space in which to take in all these tiles, but it was also used as a post-dinner smoking room for Leighton’s guests.

An account from James Whistler which describes him and Edward Burne Jones (both successful 19th Century artists) talking so animatedly that the walked into the central pool!

Leighton House Arab Hall

Image Courtesy of Leighton House Museum © Will Pryce

Holland Park become an enclave of establishment artists and Leighton’s house helped promote him. There were a number of high profile articles interviewing him within the confines of his glamorous home, similar to when you see celebs in Hello! Magazine today. Even Queen Victoria popped by, visiting in 1869!

‘He built the house as it now stands for his own artistic delight. Every stone of it had been the object of his loving care. It was a joy to him until the moment when he lay down to die.’  Leighton’s sisters in a Letter to The Times, 26 January 1899

And, of course, Don’t forget to look up!

Leighton House Arab Hall

Image Courtesy of Leighton House Museum © Will Pryce

Visiting

You can find Leighton House Museum on Holland Park Road in Kensington. It’s open daily (except Tuesdays) 10am – 5.30pm.

Find out more about special events and what’s on here.
Entrance currently costs £12 (£10 concessions) as the price includes entry to the house and the Flaming June exhibition (until 2 April) from April ticket price is £9 / £7.

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3 Comments

  • Mark Jones

    Reply

    Flaming June is one of my favourite paintings! I love Frederick Lord Leighton’s work 😀

    February 12, 2017 at 6:25 pm
  • Humaira

    Reply

    Katie, we visited based on your recommendation and it was amazing! I never would have even known if it wasn’t for this blog so thank you!

    The tour lasts 1.5 hours but you can buy an audio guide for £2.

    Also, you are not allowed to take pictures which is unfortunate but I would recommend this place!

    March 21, 2017 at 7:54 pm

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