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Frederic Leighton

 

Sir Frederic Leighton (1830–1896), an influential painter and sculptor in the British Aesthetic Movement, favoured historical, biblical and classical subjects. His landscape paintings clearly reflect his belief in the spiritual importance of the sun. ”Sunlight can never be accessory – its glory is paramount where it appears”, he wrote.

Sir Frederic Leighton was a major figure in the 19th century English Aesthetic Movement, which validated art’s independent right to exist merely for its own sake. He was born in England, but from the age of ten lived abroad with his family. He received an academic training on the Continent, settling in Rome by 1854. He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1855, moving to Paris for three years from 1856 to 1859.

In 1859 he settled in London, building in Holland Park a large house that is now a monument to Aestheticism. He became successful as an artist, producing mainly figure paintings, with some portraits, and specializing in classical subjects, moving gradually from narrative painting towards a purely aesthetic approach. His late work was largely influenced by English Aestheticism, culminating in the painting Flaming June, (c. 1895, Ponce Museum, Puerto Rico). Leighton enjoyed a considerable reputation in Britain: he was elected President of the Royal Academy in 1878 and granted a knighthood one day before he died.