AFTER FREDERIC LORD LEIGHTON
This fabulous painting is a period copy of the original in Tate Collection presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest in 1890. This well executed and faithful work was painted by a very accomplished Pre-Raphaelite painter in his own right, directly from the original in The Tate, and can be dated to the early 1890’s. The artist whose identity remains to date unknown, was quite possibly in the circle of Lord Leighton
The story of Psyche comes from a tale by the Roman poet Lucius Apuleius. Psyche was the daughter of a king. Cupid, Venus’s son, fell in love with her, but she angered him, and he left her. Psyche wandered over the earth in search of Cupid until Jupiter took pity on her, made her immortal, and re-united the lovers. Leighton based Psyche’s pose on an ancient statue of Venus Leaving the Bath that he’d seen in Naples in 1859. He may also have designed the frame, which echoes the architectural details in the background of the picture.
Frederic Lord Leighton
Leighton was born in Scarborough to a family in the import and export business. He was educated at University College School, London. He then received his artistic training on the European continent, first from Eduard Von Steinle and then from Giovanni Costa.
When in Florence, aged 24, where he studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti, he painted the procession of the Cimabue Madonna through the Borgo Allegri. He lived in Paris from 1855 to 1859, where he met Ingres, Delacroix, Corot and Millet.
In 1860, he moved to London, where he associated with the Pre-Raphaelites. He designed Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s tomb for Robert Browning in the English Cemetery, Florence in 1861. In 1864 he became an associate of the Royal Academy and in 1878 he became its President (1878–96). His 1877 sculpture, Athlete Wrestling with a Python, was considered at its time to inaugurate a renaissance in contemporary British sculpture, referred to as the New Sculpture. His paintings represented Britain at the great 1900 Paris Exhibition.
Leighton was knighted at Windsor in 1878, and was created a Baronet, of Holland Park Road in the Parish of St Mary Abbots, Kensington, in the County of Middlesex, eight years later. He was the first painter to be given a peerage, in the New Year Honours List of 1896. The patent creating him Baron Leighton, of Stretton in the County of Shropshire, was issued on 24 January 1896; Leighton died the next day of angina pectoris.
His house in Holland Park, London has been turned into a museum, the Leighton House Museum.