Gift of oil painting follows BDP’s extensive redevelopment of Frederic Leighton’s historic home and studio

Artist Frederic Leighton’s former home and studio, Leighton House, reopened in late 2022 after undergoing a major redevelopment, overseen by BDP. Now it has been announced that the banker and chairman of the Friends of Leighton House, David Verey, has gifted the museum an original study created by Leighton as preparation for his most famous painting, Flaming June.

The study, of the central female figure, in oil on canvas, is typical of what was Leighton’s highly methodical approach to preparing his paintings. The gifted artwork will be housed within the new eastern wing of the museum, completed by BDP in October.

The wing includes new exhibition spaces, a cafe, learning centre and a dramatic new spiral staircase, incorporating a large-scale commission, titled Oneness, by the Iranian artist, Shahrzad Ghaffari.

Leighton House is located in the Holland Park area of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Designed by George Aitchison, in close collaboration with Leighton, it was constructed in phases between 1866 and 1895. Open to the public as a museum since 1929, it is well known for the way in which its creators incorporated architectural fragments and artworks assembled from across the Ottoman Empire.

Although the exterior is designed in a restrained classical style, the interiors are notably more flamboyant and include contemporaneous Victorian ceramics and artworks by the likes of William De Morgan and Walter Crane. The building represents a significant example of the influence of Orientalism on the built environment.

The redevelopment has seen the restoration and opening to the public of the Winter Studio, a fully glazed extension created in the 1880s to enable Leighton to work during the winter, when natural daylight levels were significantly reduced. Elsewhere, the Entrance Hall has been restored to its original condition, to include a large painting by Domenico Tintoretto.

The museum has been made more accessible, with the installation of a new lift. The gardens have also been remodelled.

Commenting on the redevelopment, David Artis, director at BDP, said: “This project will have a transformative effect on the museum, allowing it to be accessible to all for the first time, and provide excellent visitor and collection care facilities.

“This refurbishment supports the museum’s ambitions to safeguard and preserve the integrity of the original house, while meeting the needs of new audiences and cementing it as unique asset for the borough. Leighton House is one of London’s great houses and we are very much looking forward to seeing it re-open to the public at a time when such places are needed more than ever.”

The redevelopment of Leighton House was supported by Kensington and Chelsea Council alongside the Friends of Leighton House and the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The study for Flaming June will be on display at Leighton House from 7 June.