Thursday, January 26, 2012

Frederic Leighton - Sir? Lord? Baron?

Solitude (1890)
72 X 36 in.
oil on canvas

In his day, the artist Frederic, Lord Leighton, would not have been accustomed to being addressed by such a grand honorific as "Lord."  Though born to a wealthy family with connections to royalty (his grandfather, Sir James, was the Court Physician in Russia, specifically attached to the service of Empress Elizabeth, the wife of Alexander I, and later was also doctor to Czar Nicholas), Leighton did not inherit his title.  In 1878, when Leighton was elected President of the Royal Academy of Art, Queen Victoria bestowed upon the artist his first title:  Knight Bachelor.  This is the most basic rank of knighthood, but earned the artist the right to be addressed as "Sir Frederic Leighton."  Eight years later, Leighton was created a Baronet, which placed him in rank above most knights, though it did not yet make him a nobleman.  He was still to be addressed as "Sir."  On January 24th, 1896, however, Leighton entered the world of British nobility, when he was issued the title of Baron, and the honor of being called "Lord.".  Unfortunately, for the Right Honourable Frederic, Lord Leighton of Stretton in the County Shropshire, this new appellation would not become familiar to his ears;  he died the very next day.

As a Baron, Lord Leighton holds two historically significant distinctions.  Not only was he the first artist ever created a Baron in the United Kingdom, his Barony, which lasted a single day, is the shortest -lived peerage in British history.  With Leighton's death, and the facts that he had not been married nor given issue, the Barony of Stretton was extinguished fewer than 24 hours after its creation.


sara star said...

I have seen this painting a number of times at the Maryhill museum and I always love it.

Thanks so much for giving us a few more details about his life (and death)

paraskevi malouxou said...

perfect ...

Lisa Graham Art said...

I have never heard of this artist. Now I have. Thank you.