News ID: 114324
Publish Date : 25 April 2023 - 22:37

Leighton House Displays Love of Islamic Art

LONDON (Daily Sabah) --
Although on the outside it looks very plain, Leighton House in London is recognized as one of Britain’s most important artist homes, but what sets it apart from the others is the integration of Eastern and Western art under the one dome.
At first glance, it looks like an ordinary Victorian mansion, but visitors are transported worlds away the moment they step inside.
The famous British painter Frederic Leighton lived in the red-bricked building in the 19th century and it reflected his appreciation for Islamic art.
Leighton was captivated by the beauty and mystery of the Islamic world, and he spent years traveling across the Middle East and North Africa, studying the architecture, art, and culture of the region in the 1800s.
When he returned to London, he set about creating a masterpiece that would capture the essence of what he had seen.
The result was the Arab Hall inside the house, a magnificent space that was unlike anything else in London at the time.
Leighton filled a portion of his abode, known as Arab Hall, with treasures from his travels, including beautifully adorned Iznik ceramic tiles and priceless works of art.
He even commissioned a fountain to be built, adding to the hall’s sense of grandiosity and opulence.
The Arab Hall still stands as a stunning example of Islamic architecture in England, complete with intricate mosaics, vibrant tiles and a soaring dome that evokes the grandeur of ancient mosques.
Daniel Robbins, senior curator at Leighton House Museum, told Anadolu Agency (AA) that at the time the house was built, there was nothing like it to be seen in a home setting in the country.
“This house was built as his studio house and he started it in the 1860s. He lived here for 30 years, and almost throughout the 30 years, he was adding to the house or embellishing it in some way,” he said.
The most spectacular example of this was the construction of the Arab Hall in the 1870s, he said.
“So about 10 years after he had first built the house, he added this extension, and it was really to celebrate his appreciation of the art of the Islamic world that he had seen.”
In 1867, Leighton visited the Ottoman Empire, traveling to what is today Türkiye and visiting the Black Sea region, along with the capital Istanbul and the city of Bursa roughly 90 kilometers (about 56 miles) south.
“On these trips, he began to collect and he began to visit places of architectural and historic interest, and that all fed into his idea that perhaps he could add something here at the house as a way of displaying the material that he collected as he traveled,” said Robbins.
In designing the Arab Hall, Leighton drew inspiration from a variety of sources, including the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain, the Moorish architecture of North Africa, and the famous ceramics of Iznik, a lake town northeast of Bursa.
According to Robbins, the interior of a 12th-century Arab-Norman palace called La Zisa in Palermo, Sicily was also very influential when Leighton came to designing the hall.
“So, it wasn’t a sort of single source that was copied. It was the combined influence of a number of places,” he said.
In his own letters and writings, Leighton often referred to his fascination with Islamic art and architecture and his desire to incorporate these influences into his own work.
Visitor, Elizabeth Stone, said she came all the way from Oxford to enjoy the house and its contents.