Leighton House in Kensington is the product of an aesthetic imagination run wild.
Unencumbered by either family or financial limits, Frederic, Lord Leighton created a space that was at once a home, a studio and an architectural expression of his artistic creed – his 'private palace of art'.
The house was developed gradually over the course of three decades by architect George Aitchison, and was still in progress when he died in 1895.
Now restored to full splendour, it is a museum to Leighton's life and work.
The artistic hub of Leighton House is the two-storey Arab Hall. It was built as a showcase for Leighton's collection of more than 1,000 tiles collected in the Middle East, and is a symphonic riot of colour and pattern. The hall's columns are ornamented with carved birds, and even the domed ceiling is covered in decorative paintwork. In the centre a fountain plays gently.
The interior of the house has been restored to as close to its original state as possible. The result demonstrates Leighton's wide-ranging fondness for Aesthetic décor, Arts and Crafts furniture and Oriental objects. Visitors can admire Leighton's vast domed studio with its gallery, often home to the artist's musical parties, as well as the house's more informal entertaining spaces.
On the walls of the Silk Room hang fine examples of work by Leighton's fellow artists Millais, Burne-Jones, Watts and Sargent. Some 80 of Leighton's own paintings, as well as his small-scale sculptures and personal ephemera, are on display throughout the house.