Works from one of the world’s finest private collections of Pre-Raphaelite and Victorian art are to be exhibited in the UK for the first time.
The exhibition will take place in the unique setting of Leighton House Museum, one of the country’s most exceptional Victorian houses. It will be called ‘Victorian Visions: Pre-Raphaelite and Nineteenth-Century Art from the John Schaeffer Collection’, and will run from Thursday 26 April – Sunday 23 September 2012
Included are works by Leighton himself (the colour sketch for his famous Flaming June) and by his contemporaries including John William Waterhouse, William Holman Hunt, G.F. Watts, Solomon J Solomon and the sculptor Alfred Gilbert. The collection will be displayed throughout the historic interiors of the house, providing an exceptional experience for anyone interested in Victorian and Pre-Raphaelite art.
Over the past 25 years John Schaeffer has been one of the world’s most prominent collectors of British nineteenth-century art. He said: ‘Leighton House has been one of my favourite London museums for many years. It will be a great pleasure for me to see my collection hanging in the home of an artist that I have admired for so long and whose work I have been fortunate to collect.’
Born in the Netherlands, John Schaeffer emigrated to Australia in the late 1950s where his business career flourished. He was founder, Executive Chairman and CEO of Tempo Services Limited, one of Australia’s largest multi-service public companies. His interest in collecting started in the 1970s with Australian paintings by Rupert Bunny, Emanuel Phillips Fox & John Peter Russell but increasingly through the 1980s and 90s he developed a passion for British nineteenth-century painting and sculpture. He is a benefactor of the Australian art community and his support includes contributions of art and financial assistance to educational institutions and state and federal galleries. He is a board member of the National Gallery of Australia Foundation, a Life Governor of the Art Gallery of New South Wales and a board member of the Art Gallery of New South Wales Foundation. He is a past Trustee of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, and an Honorary Governor of the Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales. In acknowledgement of his generosity and support, Sydney University now has The Schaeffer Fine Arts Library and The Art Gallery of New South Wales, The National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne and the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra each incorporates a John Schaeffer Gallery.
For more than a decade John Schaeffer has had a close and valued relationship with Leighton House Museum. The house now provides the perfect setting for the collection. Located on the edge of Holland Park in Kensington, Leighton House was the former home and studio of the leading Victorian artist, Frederic, Lord Leighton (1830-1896). Built to designs by George Aitchison, it was extended and embellished over a period of 30 years to create a private palace of art. The Arab Hall is the centrepiece of the house. Designed to display Leighton’s priceless collection of over a thousand Islamic tiles, mostly brought back from Damascus in Syria, the interior evokes a compelling vision of the Orient. The opulence continues through the other richly decorated interiors, with gilded ceilings and walls lined with peacock blue tiles by the ceramic artist William De Morgan. Following an award-winning restoration in 2009-10, the house now attracts over 40,000 visitors a year.
Councillor Nicholas Paget-Brown of Kensington and Chelsea Council said: “I am so delighted that Leighton House is hosting this important exhibition from the Schaeffer Collection. It will provide a unique opportunity for visitors to view significant works by Leighton that are now in Australia and will also include other paintings by Pre Raphaelite and other major Victorian artists, many of whom worked in the vicinity of Holland Park. To see these works on display in the recently restored house which lay at the heart of Victorian artistic establishment, will be a very special experience.”
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