There’s just something about knights in armor, fair maidens in sweeping dresses and rough castle walls draped with tapestries that makes for wonderful images; from the finely wrought paintings of the Victorian era through the dramatic illustrations of Howard Pyle and N.C. Wyeth to highly finessed digital renderings of modern fantasy illustrators.
Edmind Blair Leighton was a Victorian painter sometimes considered to be a second generation Pre-Raphaelite. It would be more accurate to simply say that he was influenced by them and displayed similarities of style and subject matter, much like his contemporary John William Waterhouse.
Leighton was known for his elegantly rendered depictions historical scenes, most often of the age of chivalry. His luxurious canvasses of valiant knights, golden tressed ladies and romanticized royalty in dramatic costume and idyllic settings made him popular in his time and account for his renewed popularity in recent years.
Leighton also painted modern (i.e. Victorian) scenes, often with themes of courtship or weddings, but is was his romanticised history painting that proved most appealing.
There seems to be little information available about Leighton, either on the web or in books. Reproductions of his work, however, are common on poster and art sites everywhere.
I should point out that Edmund Blair Leighton should be distinguished from Frederick Lord Leighton, no relation, but also a Victorian artist of note (who will be the topic of a future post).
Even if information on Leighton himself is in short supply, we can still get lost in his wonderfully romantic visions of medieval times.