When you are a famous artist, you get to decorate your house in all the finery you want, and when we’re lucky, these idiosyncratic personal spaces are preserved and turned into museums for future generations to enjoy. Such is the case with the Leighton House Museum.
The former home of painter Sir Frederic Leighton (best know for his piece Flaming June) dazzles visitors with its exquisite interior and insight into the Late-Victorian world and an obsession with “the East.” Building on the home began in 1866 and continued via slow expansion for the next 30 years.
Built in conjunction with architect George Aitchison, every inch of the building is imbued with the artist’s touch. Decadent peacocks, spectacular blue mosaics, and Arabesque features make Leighton’s home a delight to visit, and a true curiosity. In later extensions to property, special rooms like the “Arab Hall,” where Leighton displayed the artwork of others, were built as well. The house is more of a palace than anything.
Leighton’s studio, shown at the end of the tour, is especially fascinating, with the artist’s easels and works in progress on display. In addition to the house and its spectacular features, the museum doubles as a gallery for Leighton and his contemporaries’ work, making it a must for any lover of the Pre-Raphaelites, those interested in Victorian splendor, or just anyone looking for a curious little museum.
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