Leighton House – a Victorian gem

This is a guest post by Laura Porter of About.com London Travel especially for The Beaufort.  Thank you Laura!

© Justin Barton

Leighton House Museum was the home and work space of Victorian artist Frederic, Lord Leighton. He commissioned the building in 1859 and it includes a large first floor studio and the magnificent ground floor Arab Hall adorned with his collection of 1,000 tiles from Syria, Turkey and Persia. The room is based on a surviving twelfth century Moorish/Norman palace called La Zisa in Palermo, Sicily.

© Laura Porter

The design even incorporates an indoor fountain too making the building popular with visitors during Leighton’s lifetime. It was the custom in the day for artists to open up their home to the public to show their latest work and to make art more accessible to all. Lord Leighton travelled regularly so allowed his home to be open to the paying public while he was away.

The building has been renovated and restored back to the way it would have been during Leighton’s time there. It reopened in 2010 and is a popular visitor attraction once again.

Lord Leighton © National Portrait Gallery, London

A new photographic exhibition gives the perfect opportunity to visit the building. Studio Sittings: Photographing Royal Academicians brings together photographs taken by Anne Purkiss over the last 25 years along with Victorian artists to give a wonderful insight into the way an artist works. Most have chosen to be photographed in their studio and you can see the tools of their trade on the walls, tables and, often, across the floor.

Lord Leighton had to be included but it was interesting to see how many other Victorian artists lived and worked in the Kensington area such as Sir John Everett Millais and Marcus Stone.

Grayson Perry © Anne Purkiss

Anne Purkiss’s photographs include many household names such as Grayson Perry, David Hockney and Sir Peter Blake. Purkiss was born in Germany and moved to London to be a press photographer.

As well as having photographs published in national and international newspapers some of her work is also held in a number of public collections at prestigious establishments such as the National Portrait Gallery and the Royal Society.

Sir Peter Blake © Anne Purkiss

Studio Sittings is on from 15 March to 2 June 2013.

Leighton House Museum is open daily (except Tuesdays) from 10am to 5.30pm.

Address: Leighton House Museum, 12 Holland Park Road, Kensington London W14 8LZ

Official website: www.leightonhouse.co.uk

 

Leighton House Museum is easy to reach from The Beaufort by no.9 bus from Knightsbridge Barracks (10 minutes walk away). This is one of the Routemaster bus routes so hopefully you’ll be able to ride on one of these heritage buses as they run every 15 minutes. Alternatively just hop in a taxi from the hotel!

Laura Porter writes the About.com London Travel site and is also a VisitBritain Super Blogger. She fits in further freelance writing while sustaining an afternoon tea addiction to rival the Queen’s. Laura is @AboutLondon on twitter and @AboutLondon Laura on Facebook.

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