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Lord Frederick Leighton was born on December 1830, in Scarborough, North Riding of Yorkshire - known today as the county of North Yorkshire - in England. He lived with his mother, Augusta Susan, father, Dr. Drederic Septimus Leighton, and with two sisters. One of his sisters was Alexandra, who appears in some of Frederick’s portraits and became known as the biographer of Robert Browning. Leighton began his studies at University College School and dedicated himself to study art under Edward von Steinle and Giovanni Costa. While in Frankfurt, the young 17-year-old artist had the honor of meeting and portraying the only known portrait of Arthur Schopenhauer. He used graphite and gouache on paper to portray the philosopher.
By the age of 24, Leighton was studying at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence. A year later, in 1855, the artist moved to the mecca of art; Paris, where he was fortunate to meet with other masters of the time, like the Neo-Classical painter Ingres, the Romanticist Delacroix, and the Realist artists Corot and Millet. In 1860, he came in contact with the Pre-Raphaelites when he moved to London and a year later, Leighton enroled in the Artists Rifles as a volunteer soldier, as he was passionate about working with the troops.
The British artist was praised by the public and art critics for his work in painting as well as sculpture. His Academic background led him to mostly portray biblical and historical subject in a realistic but romantic manner. By 1878, he was President of the Royal Academy, which he was an associate since 1864. The same year the Academy elected him President, he was knighted at Windsor for his outstanding work in the field of arts. On January 24nd 1896, Leighton was the first painter to receive a peerage by the New Year Honours, that made him Baron Leighton of Stretton, but unfortunately because of angina pectoris, passed away the very next day.
The work of the British artist can be seen at the Leighton House Museum, his old home in Holland Park, London. Not only is Leighton’s life work there, but also collections of his peers and past masters. There is also an artwork dedicated to Leighton by Sir John Everett Millais, who took his place as the President of the Royal Academy after his death in 1896.