This week I visited Lord Leighton's House in Kensington. It was rather a gloomy and chilly day, strange for August! My first impressions were that I loved the gold details and the rich colours within the house. The Arab Hall was stunning and I felt myself transported to some far flung courtyard somewhere in the Middle East. However, I only truly felt 'at home' upstairs on the first floor in which the rooms were bathed in light (for mainly having a tinted glass roof). I agreed with my friend that this it seemed was where Lord Leighton truly lived and worked and not on the ground, which was maily for show.
I had picked up the booklet about the house and Lord Leighton but hadn't read it till after I had left. I found a passage which to an archivist saddened me a little.
' Leighton left no diaries and his letters are telling in their lack of reference to his personal circumstances. No definite primary evidence has yet to come to light that effectively dispels the secrecy that Leighton built up around himself' Leighton House Museum
He was, it seems a very private man. There may have been no mystery at all about his sexuality or whether he had a child by one of his models. These suppositions were damning for the period if they were found to be true. Also I can sympathise with someone who feels their lives are not for the show of others. But now we will never know. In an age much more free to talk and share, maybe it would have been more of a burden for him in this period than the one he lived and worked.