Out and about: Leighton House

Written by George Peckham, ITP Coordinator

I recently made a trip to see Leighton House Museum – an art museum and historic house in the west of London. Leighton House was recently nominated for Art Fund Museum of the Year 2023, which encouraged me to make a visit for the first time.

The building was the home of 19th century artist Frederick Leighton, who commissioned architect George Aitchison to build him a combined home and artist studio. After Leighton died, the house was turned into a museum and open to the public since 1929. In 2019 the museum undertook a major refurbishment project, creating new visitor facilities including a shop, café, exhibition space and a learning centre.

Inside the studio at Leighton House

For a relatively small space there is a so much to see. In every room the walls are filled with artworks, including over 80 paintings by Frederick Leighton himself. As you walk up the stairs of the house, you will immediately notice a copy of Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam – the famous fresco which makes up part of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. The width of this wall was built specifically for the fresco to fit in.

Copy of Michelangelo's Creation of Adam Fresco inside Leighton House
Staircase of Leighton House

By far the most impressive and unique part of the house is the space known as the Arab Hall. Leighton travelled extensively in Turkey, Egypt and Syria and was inspired by the interior design and textiles of the region. The walls are covered with beautiful blue tiles and ceramics in the style of Iznik ware. The centre piece of the house in the fountain which sits under an amazing gold domed ceiling.

Fireplace in Leighton House. Walls are red with ceramic plates hanging

The gold domed ceiling and fountain inside the Arab Hall

Since reopening in 2022 Leighton House has been a hidden gem of a museum in London. Hopefully the exposure brought through its nomination for 2023 Museum of Year will encourage more visitors to this beautiful space.