Lord Frederick Leighton Biography
Lord Frederick Leighton was Born at Scarborough. Studied in Florence, 1844 and from 1849 for more than two years at Frankfurt. In Rome, 1852-55; contact with John Gibson, sculptor, and the painter/sculptor Gerome. Settled in London 1860. In 1866 settled in Holland Park Road near G. F. Watts. Chief works in sculpture include: Athlete and Python, The Sluggard and "Needless Alarms". Like Holman Hunt and Watts, Leighton made small models to assist him in the composition of certain paintings.
Frederic Leighton had an extraordinary and far-ranging talent; as a painter this is recognisable in his paintings, from his large-scale Academy paintings to his highly personal oil studies and landscapes. Perhaps partly as a result of his upbringing and academic art education in various parts of Europe Leighton had a more sophisticated understanding of aesthetics than almost any of his British contemporaries. Throughout his career Lord Frederick Leighton was closely involved with the Royal Academy; his most important paintings were exhibited there, and were generally met with an enthusiastic response. Lord Frederick Leighton succeeded Sir Francis Grant as President of the Royal Academy in 1878, and despite the schism that had been caused in the sphere of painting by the inception of the Grosvenor Gallery in 1877, he himself was sufficiently august a figure to transcend the divisions and rivalries of the period.
Leighton’s greatest paintings are mythological subjects or scenes from ancient or Biblical history. Unlike many of his contemporaries he understood the true spirit of classicism in painting and therefore did not rely on mere archaeological reconstruction, but rather created timeless settings of simplicity and great visual strength. Nothing conflicts with, or distracts from, the physical or emotional drama which is the subject of the painting. Leighton is arguably the greatest of High Victorian painters. Only Burne-Jones has any claim to compete with him for this primacy.