13 January 2013

Leighton House Museum

12 Holland Park Road was the London home of the Victorian painter and sculptor, Frederic, Lord Leighton (1830-1896). Leighton died the day after his peerage was created and the house first became a museum in 1900. The Leighton House Museum is administered by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and a major restoration was completed in 2010. Two of its most striking features are the Narcissus Hall and the Arab Hall on the ground floor (below, left and right). The former has tiles by William De Morgan and the latter incorporates an extensive collection of Islamic tiles and ceramics.

On the first floor are the artist’s studio and the Silk Room with Millais’ Shelling Peas (left), exchanged with Leighton for a copy of an elegant bronze by the latter, Needless Alarms, also on display. The museum has a unique and exotic atmosphere, quite at odds with its Holland Park surroundings, and is well worth visiting. It is only a short distance from High Street Kensington tube station (and after 2015 will be hardly any distance from the new Design Museum).

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