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Frederic Lord Leighton

At my sister's apartment, on Resavska Street in Belgrade, on one of the walls of her bedroom, I saw a print of a painting that immediately won me over.

A sleepy pretty girl in a saffron-colored dress made of light and swaying material, sits on a chair with her head down and sleeps peacefully. Colors, facial expression, her sensuality, beauty, type of fabric, I liked everything.

Below it did not say who the painter was or what his name was, no information. Then, a couple of days later, I accidentally came across a photo of a girl in an orange dress. What luck! The painter is Frederic Leighton and the painting is called Flaming June.

At the time, she was exhibited in New York, and otherwise, her place of residence is Puerto Rico. The picture was taken there in the 1960s by a collector who bought her in England for about a thousand pounds, fascinated by her beauty when the picture was of no interest to anyone. It became the central image of the museum in which it is housed and has since undergone its renaissance. It gained importance it lost by changing owners, whilst hidden in some London pantry.

The girl in the picture is Dorothy Dene, Lord Leighton's muse. His longtime inspiration. There are no records that the couple was in an emotional love affair, but it is known that he financially helped her actress career, which at one point became significant, that they lived together occasionally in his house, went to parties and socialised. He was generous to this girl of good looks and great style. After his death, she received a large sum of money from the Lord's family. She died only a few years after he was considerably younger.

It is thought that the writer George Bernard Shaw, who knew the pair personally, made characters from his book Pygmalion inspired by this unusual connection. And, Frederic Lord Leighton (1830 - 1896), an English painter and sculptor of the Victorian era, belonged to a group of pre-Raphaelites. He was the president of the Royal Academy and remains the only painter buried in St. Paul's Church.

Self-portrait, Frederic Lieghton 1880

Interesting personality, versatile man, great travel enthusiast, pleasant looking and very knowledgeable, he moved in the highest social circles.

What was particularly interesting to me was, during my stay in London, to visit the house where this remarkable and unusual man lived, which has now been turned into his museum.

It is located on Holland Park Road, at number 12. Lord has been actively involved in the construction of the house lasting over 30 years. George Aitchison (1825-1910), chief architect was his long-standing friend. The last work on the house was completed a few months before the Lord's death.

Arab Hall

The architecture itself reflects the multiple styles and influences he has been exposed to in his travels. Oriental influences of Syria, Egypt, Turkey are visible. The facade was made under the influence of southern Italy. The direct inspiration was La Zisa in Palermo. From all his travels he brought ceramics, textiles, handmade tiles from Damascus, various objects and other things fascinated by their beauty.

Arab Hall, Ceiling

Mosaics, marble frieze, fountain, silk wallpaper with different ornaments, multiple types of marble fireplaces, pictures, books, all in one place!


It should be noted that Victorian and conservative England did not suffer much outside influence during this period. The Lord's preference for pre-Raphaelites speaks volumes for his personality and independence.


It is a period in which the only contrast to the official academic style comes precisely from pre-Raphaelites who are inspired by nature, feelings, religious themes through their own romantic outlook.


The appearance of this house, among other things, testifies to unique lifestyle of high English society at the time.

The dining room

A wonderful experience and an interesting story hiding behind a poster.

Images courtesy of Leighton house Museum

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