Leighton House Museum has announced their first show for 2016, titled Pre-Raphaelites on Paper: Victorian Drawings from the Lanigan Collection. This is an exceptional, privately- assembled collection making its first UK public appearance. It features over 100 drawings and sketches by the Pre- Raphaelites and their contemporaries. The exhibition is organised by the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) and expresses the richness and flair of British draftsmanship during the Victorian era displayed in the unique setting of the opulent home and studio of artist and President of the Royal Academy (PRA) Frederic, Lord Leighton. From preparatory sketches to highly finished drawings intended as works of art in themselves, visitors will discover the diverse ways that Victorian artists used drawing to further their artistic practice, creating, as they did so, images of great beauty and accomplishment.
Portraits, landscapes, allegories and scenes from religious and literary works are all represented in the exhibition including studies for some of the most well-known paintings of the era such as Edward Burne- Jones’ The Wheel of Fortune (1883), Holman Hunt’s Eve of St Agnes (1848) and Leighton’s Cymon and Iphigenia (1884). With the exception of Leighton’s painting studio, the permanent collection will be cleared from Leighton House and the drawings hung throughout the historic interiors.
This outstanding collection, brought together over a 30-year period by Canadian Dr. Dennis T. Lanigan, comprises works by over 60 of the most prominent artists of the period, like Edward Burne-Jones, John Everett Millais, William Holman Hunt, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edward Poynter and Frederic Leighton himself. Leighton is represented by five drawings including a study for Clytie, his last work, which was acquired by Leighton House in 2008. Also featured are works by Rossetti’s wife Lizzie Siddal and a study by William Morris for his only known easel painting La Belle Iseult (c.1857). In recent years much of the Lanigan Collection has been generously given or promised to the National Gallery of Canada. The exhibition has been on display at the NGC from September 2015 to January 2016 and has now travelled to Leighton House Museum which is owned and operated by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea where it will be presented as of 12 February 2016 as part of the NGC’s touring exhibition program. Pre-Raphaelites on Paper will be the first presentation of the collection in the UK.
On his collection going on display at Leighton House Museum Dr. Dennis T. Lanigan commented: ‘In 1982 I acquired my first work by the Pre-Raphaelite and Aesthetic Movement artists I really wanted to collect – an oil sketch by Frederic Leighton for Greek Girl Dancing. I had initially visited Leighton House in 1976 when I was a medical student and I fell in love with the house and with Leighton’s art. I never would have imagined that forty years later pieces from my collection would be exhibited there.’
Senior Curator for Leighton House Museum, Daniel Robbins said: ‘Like many of his contemporaries Leighton prized drawing as a medium and was himself a significant collector of drawings. The Lanigan Collection is as thoughtful and detailed as it is important, and as such is an honour to be working with the National Gallery of Canada and Dennis Lanigan to bring so much of the collection to London for the first time.’
Marc Mayer Director and CEO of the National Gallery of Canada also commented: ‘It must have been written in the stars that the National Gallery of Canada’s exhibition of Dr. Lanigan’s extraordinary gift of Victorian drawings should travel to the Leighton House Museum, because Frederic Leighton was the first artist outside Canada whose work was collected by our institution. It was in 1882 that Leighton himself donated one of his paintings to the Gallery at the invitation of our founders, the Marquess of Lorne and Princess Louise. To say that we are thrilled about this collaboration is an understatement.’
Pre-Raphaelites on Paper: Leighton House Museum 12 Feb 2016 – 29 May 2016