|sketch of the exterior which gives little clue of the Orientalist phantasy inside|
|Narcissus Hall, inspired by Pompeian ruins.|
Leighton wasn't necessarily an interesting character. Born into great wealth he was free to pursue his artistic career at ease. He stood out as an outsider because he was well traveled and didn't seem particularly interested in following Victorian or even British (at the time) conduct standards. He never married which gave rise to speculations -well founded ones I'd say but he was very private and never hinted at any passions or private affairs in all his correspondence- and he was quite generous with artists friends and models.
|The golden dome from the exterior.|
But Leighton the artist is another matter. He certainly conformed to classical ideals and his artwork emanates a quietude and elevation that keeps it a bit beyond reach. In that sense, he was an artist of the elite. His technique is exquisite as it is his draftsmanship. But again, he very much remains in an Olympic stupor. Even his studies and smaller pieces stay immutable in their perfection. I found his landcapes from Egypt, Venice and Algiers particularly beautiful and there is quite a collection of them in the house-museum.
|Sketch of the Arab Hall.|
The artist's studio was spectacular as it befits a celebrity artist of Leighton's stature. Very modern in its concept and design, it would work perfectly well today. On display were his palette and his pigments, the best money could buy. It's pointless to reflect what would Leighton's career had been if it hadn't been softly cushioned by his upbringing. One suspects his art would have dwelled much less in the ethereal mythologies he created...may be his considerable talent would have seen him through. Who knows. I'm projecting again...but my suspicion is that he would have joined the pre-rafaelites. He was acquainted with their deeds and Dante Gabriel Rossetti visited the house on occasion.
|Snuck a picture of Narcissus Hall|