Lines and Colors art blog

Edmund Blair Leighton

Edmind Blair LeightonThere’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).

There is a bit of biography for Edmund Blair Leighton on the ArtMagic Galleries site, and a short description on the Art Renewal site.

Even if information on Leighton himself is in short supply, we can still get lost in his wonderfully romantic visions of medieval times.

Edmund Blair Leighton at Art Renewal Center

Edmund Blair Leighton at CGFA

Edmund Blair Leighton at Illusions Gallery

Edmund Blair Leighton at Victorian Art in Britain

Edmund Blair Leighton at Manchester Art Gallery


5 responses to “Edmund Blair Leighton”

  1. Edmund Blair Leighton could well be the benchmark of the Edwardian/Victorian era. It is interesting to note what was happening in France during the same period. JLC

  2. Yes, I wish there was more information available on Leighton.

    I have to admit that I’m not as familiar with French Academic art from the same period as I am with English. Are there French artists in particular that you find interesting from that time?

  3. I am often surprised at the “lack of history” when I search deep into some very well known names and subjects. Much of the art history we have today consists only of the letters and notes left by these artists and their families.
    Some notable painters from France during the Edwardian/ Victorian era were Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres 1780-1868, Paul Delaroche 1797-1856, Alexandre Cabanel 1823-1889, and John Singer Sargent 1856-1925, who in 1924, William Starkweather described as ‘an American born in Florence Italy, educated in Paris France, looks like a German, speaks like an Englishman, and paints like a Spaniard.
    Edmund Blair Leighton 1853-1922, was truly riding at the crest of the golden age of arts with great talent surrounding him, perhaps due to the extreme excellence of skill painters possessed during that period, folks just took him for granted; like Beethoven and Bach, forgotten only to be rediscovered. Mahalo,JLC

  4. Ken C Avatar

    Thank you captain obvious!

  5. Annibela Avatar