24 Jul 2011

Australian Art

I recently visited the Art Gallery of New South Wales, in Sydney, and learnt a bit about some artists I had never seen works by before.

One of the paintings I enjoyed most in my visit was this one:

By Lord Frederic Leighton (1830 - 1896) (creator, Details of artist on Google Art Project)
It’s called Wedded and was painted by Frederic Leighton in 1882.

I was happy I had learnt about an Australian artist but then found out he was actually English!

According to his biography, Leighton travelled extensively through his life and he could speak French, German, Italian and Spanish. Because of his years living and studying abroad, many people of his time questioned his 'Britishness'.

I’ve read that Leighton's first biographer, Emilie Barrington, said in 1906 that 'his rapid utterance, his picturesque gesture, his very appearance were not emphatically English. Certain Englishmen who knew Leighton felt out of sympathy with him for this reason and had difficulty in recognising him as one of themselves'.

A friend who visited the Art Gallery of NSW with my husband and me suggested that it may be too Eurocentric. Leighton was considered not British enough for his contemporaries. I think that good art is universal and what’s important is that long after Leighton’s death, people, British or not, are able to enjoy his paintings.