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Edmund Blair Leighton BiographyEnglish Pre-Raphaelite (2nd wave) painter
born 1853 - died 1922
Also known as: Edward Blair Leighton
Edmund Blair Leighton was a painter of historical genre paintings, mainly of medieval times, but also regency. He is now one of the most popular of the artists on this web site, Edmund Blair Leighton paintings being amongst the most frequently reproduced as oils.
Rather like Waterhouse, and Herbert Draper, Leighton the man has virtually disappeared. The reasons for the continuing popularity of the artist’s work are not difficult to understand, as they are similar to those in his lifetime, namely nostalgia for an elegant chivalrous past. Edmund Blair Leighton was also a fastidious craftsman, producing highly- finished, beautifully painted, decorative oil paintings. It would appear that he left no diaries, and I have been unable to locate any mention of him in biographies, and though he exhibited at the Royal Academy for over forty years, he was never an Academician or an Associate. I set out below such information as I have been able to accumulate on the elusive Leighton.
Edmund Blair Leighton was born on the 21st
September 1853, the son of the artist
Charles Blair Leighton. He was educated at
University College School, before becoming a
student at the Royal Academy Schools.
Leighton married Katherine Nash in 1885;
they had a son and daughter. He exhibited
annually at the RA from 1878 to 1920.
Leighton was, as might be expected from Edmund Blair Leighton
historic genre paintings a collector of old
musical instruments, art, and furniture.
He lived at 14 Priory Road, Bedford Park,
London, and died on the 1st September 1922.
The death of Mr Edward Blair Leighton, on September 1st, removed from our midst a painter who, though he did not attain to the higher flights of art, yet played a distinguished part in aiding the public mind to an appreciation of the romance attaching to antiquity, and to a realization of the fellowship of mankind throughout the ages.
Appeal of Edmund Blair Leighton paintings .
This short comment regarding the painting of Leighton was written in 1897, by Gleeson White, a writer and journalist on art.
selects as a rule themes which supplies an
excuse for old-world costume, and an easily
read anecdote. To place Edmund Blair Leighton painting in a class to which it makes
no pretence to belong, or to contrast it
with the masterpieces of the past, or even
of the present, would be to do it an
injustice. It is the pictorial equivalent of
light literature, of belles letters, of
graceful novels and vers de societe, of much
that is charming of its kind, if by its very
This is a very perceptive comment about Edmund Blair Leighton oil painting, which has always struck me as being like elegantly crafted light music.
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