Friday, March 20, 2020

Reimagining the Regency Part 2: Edmund Blair Leighton

Besides the marvelous Charles Haigh-Wood we discussed previously, another artist made his living reimagining both the Regency and medieval periods. I found it interesting that, though he had far less critical acclaim than Wood, Edmund Blair Leighton’s pieces are still quite popular today. And he actually had his photograph taken.

Leighton was born in the fall of 1852. His father was already an established portrait painter who even had his work accepted for exhibition at the Royal Academy. Leighton attended University College School in Hampstead (what we in American would consider a high school), then went on to study at the Royal Academy. His work wasn’t deemed worthy of exhibition, however, until he was 26. Once he was deemed worthy, he had something in the annual exhibition for 40 years. He married at age 33 and had two children.

He specialized in paintings that told a story. Reviewers at the time called them “highly wrought.” There was no doubt, however, that they had high popular appeal. I think you can see why. In fact, you might recognize some paintings that have since graced the cover of Regency romance novels. Here are some of my favorites.


The Request (love her collar!)
File:Edmund Blair Leighton - The request.jpg

Adieu (because, sailing ship!)
File:Edmund Blair Leighton - Adieu.jpg

The New Governess

A Wet Sunday Morning (Love her sisters and family watching from the church!)

Leighton was never made a member of the Royal Academy. He died just short of his seventieth birthday in 1922. But his paintings live on in the hearts of many.

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