Wednesday, 26 February 2014

London - Sir Frederic Leighton at the V & A

I was in London last week, and among loads of things that impressed me, I saw some work by Sir Frederic Leighton at the Victoria & Albert Museum. I've always had a soft spot for the pre-Raphaelite painters of the 19th century (my interest in illustration and romantic bent rearing their heads!) so was pleasantly surprised to see an exquisite tiny flower drawing of Leighton's in an exhibition of British drawing. Even more exciting though, I stumbled across rooms 102-107, a large corridor, where mock-ups, a full size "cartoon", and Leighton frescoes were exhibited. The corridor was somewhat dim, I presume to protect the work.

This is "The Industrial Arts as Applied to Peace" -- difficult to photograph because of lighting and size. For a sense of scale, please note that the figures are life size! The arched room is panelled with more Leighton works.

This is a detail of an arch panel.

There is a smaller painting of the fresco which is a full mock-up.

 But the most exciting piece for me was the full size "cartoon"  for this fresco. I also found out why they are called cartoons - but that is another story!

What magnificent drawing!

I love this lion's head handle on the side of a jug.

I was reminded of what had attracted me to Leighton's work back in art school. I was just starting my journey into dreams, psychology, psychoanalysis, etc. and came across an image of Leighton's painting "Flaming June".

I still lived at home with my parents in 1980, and my younger sister was a great model - when she was asleep! Here is one of my sketches of her from that time:

I later turned this into a small painting (I don't remember what happened to it). From the same sketchbook, here is the working out of some colour -- with a strong Matisse influence:

Dee Dee asleep appears in many sketchbooks, and I did a large painting of her in 1980 or 1981. (At the time, many of my friends would jokingly express surprise if they ever saw her awake!)