Frederick Leighton – British painter of the XIX century, famous for his works on the theme of ancient culture, portrait painter, the largest representative of academic painting during the reign of Queen Victoria. Frederick Leighton’s work reflects ancient plots, images from world literature, historical events of the past. His paintings, which convey the beauty of the female body, are distinguished by mesmerizing sentimentalism.
Frederick Leighton is the first English artist to be awarded the title of Baron. His works were so popular among his contemporaries that throughout his life they were exhibited in the halls of the Royal Academy – the oldest association of artists in England.
Frederick Leighton was born on December 3, 1830 in the resort town of Scarborough in a family of hereditary doctors. His father was a teacher of medical sciences, and his grandfather served as a doctor at the Russian imperial court. Young Leighton developed a craving for drawing at the age of nine. His linguistic abilities also showed up early: the young man spoke several European languages fluently. At the age of twelve, he began his studies at the Berlin Academy of Arts, and in 1845 he was enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence. The artist traveled a lot. In addition to regular trips to Europe, he visited North Africa and the Middle East. Eastern motives periodically appear in his works.
In 1860 Frederick Leighton moved to the capital of England.
In 1878 he was elected president of the Royal Academy and held this post until his last days, without stopping to paint. When choosing the theme of the work, Frederick Leighton, first of all, paid attention not to the plot, but to the emotional mood that can be created with its help.
So, in the famous work “In the Garden of the Hesperides” he completely ignores the event that made this myth so popular in the society of painters – the abduction of golden apples by the mighty Hercules. His Hesperides are depicted outside the temporal and spatial boundaries. It is difficult for the viewer to imagine that here, in a heavenly place, any event is expected at all. The motionless “extra-event” atmosphere of the picture contradicts this. This approach often led Leighton away from plot work.
From the beginning of the 1890s, the master’s health deteriorated, but he continued to work. In 1896, the day before his death, Frederick Leighton was awarded the title of Baron. The painter passed away on January 25, 1896. Subsequently, his home in Kensington (Kensington) became a museum.
The most famous paintings by Frederick Leighton
Frederick Leighton’s paintings are still perceived by viewers as an example of high artistic skill and unsurpassed professionalism. Here are some of the artist’s best works:
- Madonna Cimabue (1855) is a painting acquired by Queen Victoria at the Royal Academy exhibition. The work is extremely static. She demonstrates the artist’s talent in the art of composition.
- “Flaming June” (1859) – is considered the most important work of the master. “Life is a dream” – this theme is revealed through the romantic image of a sleeping girl who personifies the hot summer month. Leighton brought the heroine’s figure close to the viewer and enclosed her in a cramped space filled with warm colors and permeated with mystery. In the upper right corner of the canvas is a sprig of oleander, the poison of which is life-threatening. The author, as it were, hints at the imperceptible line between the state of undisturbed sleep and death.
- Pavonia (1869) is a painting acquired from Leighton by the Prince of Wales. The artist believed that art should show beautiful things. In fact, this belief was embodied in the image of women in luxurious attire.
- “The Captive Andromache” (1888) is a painting that demanded 59 drawings and sketches from the artist. The work on the work lasted for two years.