Author: Richard Ormond;Stephen Jones;Christopher Newall;Leonee Ormond;Benedict Read
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The first time Frederic Leighton (1830-1896) showed a picture at the Royal Academy in London, Queen Victoria bought it. This eminent painter and sculptor went on to become president of the Royal Academy and was the fist artist to be made a lord. Now, one hundred years after his death, the Royal Academy is honoring him with a major retrospective exhibition, for which this book serves as the catalogue. Although his oeuvre runs the gamut of Victorian themes - landscapes, portraits, genre paintings, and classical subjects - Leighton is most renowned for his masterly figure paintings, which he infused with a pulsing sensuality. Leighton always put his own imprint on his work: his gorgeously costumed figures were painted with bravura and with a skill that bespoke his many years of training. His famous Flaming June, with its alluring subject barely clothed in a sheer apricot gown, is characteristic of his mature work - vibrant, sexy, and evocative. Leighton's life was as intriguing as his art. Born into a well-to-do English family, Leighton studied widely on the Continent, ceaselessly visiting museums and palaces. He traveled wherever great art was to be found: down the Nile, in Italy, in North Africa, in Syria. His work and his home reflected his taste for the exotic: Arabic tiles decorated his walls; gowns from Turkey and Syria clothed his models. Many surprising facets of this grand Victorian - including his friendship with the Brownings - emerge in the astute essays by leading experts on Leighton and his nineteenth-century European milieu.