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Leighton House Museum is the former home of the Victorian artist Frederic Lord Leighton. It is one of the most remarkable buildings of the 19th century, containing a fascinating collection of paintings and sculpture by Leighton and his contemporaries.
Built to Leighton’s precise requirements, the house was extended and embellished over the 30 years that he lived in it. From modest beginnings, it grew into a ‘private palace of art’ with some amazing pieces of architecture from that time.
The house features an extraordinary Arab Hall with its golden dome, intricate mosaics and walls lined with beautiful Islamic tiles. Upstairs, Leighton’s vast painting studio was one of the sights of London, filled with paintings in different stages of completion, the walls hung with examples of his work and lit by a great north window.
Many of the most prominent figures of the Victorian age were entertained in this room; including Queen Victoria herself who called on Leighton in 1859. But Leighton lived alone in his palace, occupying the house’s only bedroom on the first floor.
When Leighton died in January 1896, almost all his own collections and the contents of his house were sold at auction. In 1900, following the conversion of his house to a museum and with no hope of bringing these collections back, the Leighton House Association initiated a campaign to establish a representative collection of Leighton's own work.