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Lord Leighton’s astonishing Orientalist folly of a house is constructed around his dazzling Arab Hall.
Cornucopia 10 Leighton’s Orient, which makes an enchanting concert venue. The tiles are among the finest collected in Britain. Some are Iznik (Leighton travelled to Turkey in 1867), but most are from 15th-16th century Damascus. Leighton’s studios and art gallery are on the upper floor.
Leighton House, home of the eminent Victorian painter Frederick leighton, is a monument to the Victorians’ love of Islamic art. From the street, the house is perhaps a little disappointing – no grand entrance, no crenelled archway stiff with carved gryphons and ivy – for Leighton House was designed primarily as an artist’s studio and its architect kept the outside deliberately plain, saving the exciting touches for the interior.
Leighton had commissioned George Aitchison to build him a house-cum-studio after the two became friends in Italy. They worked closely together on the plans and Aitchison designed much of the furniture, including cabinets, bookcases, fireplaces, balusters and mouldings.
He completed the first phase in 1866, making the house one of the first live-in studios of its kind in London.
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