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Friday, 14 December 2012

Lord Leighton's final work comes to Scarborough Art Gallery

The final painting by locally-born Victorian artist Frederic Lord Leighton is to spend three months at Scarborough Art Gallery.

Clytie, considered one of his finest works, depicts a nymph who fell in love with the sun god Apollo but was rejected by him, and turned into a sunflower.

It will be on show at the town centre gallery from Saturday 5 January to Sunday 31 March.

The piece has been secured on loan from London ’s Leighton House Museum in Holland Park, the former home and studio of the artist.

Scarborough Museums Trust's head of collections Karen Snowden said: “We were delighted to have the chance to exhibit Clytie.

"Lord Leighton is one of the most significant artists to have come out of Scarborough , and it’s great that local communities now have the opportunity to see this great work in the town. The painting will be accompanied by five of Lord Leighton’s paper studies for it, which will offer an insight into his technique and show how he arrived at the finished work.”

Clytie was bought four years ago for Leighton House Museum, thanks to a £337,500 Heritage Lottery grant and contributions from The Art Fund, The Friends of Leighton House and public donations.

Frederic Leighton was born in Scarborough in 1830. The family moved to London when he was a child. He studied abroad, and became known as a neo-classical artist, although many link him with the pre-Raphaelite movement. He was friends with some of the group, and much of his work, including his most famous painting, Flaming June, has pre-Raphaelite overtones.

He eventually became president of the Royal Academy. He holds the unenviable record of having the shortest-lived peerage in history – he became Lord Leighton just one day before his death in 1896.

Leighton began Clytie in 1895. His model was Dorothy Dene, a girl from a large and very poor family. During the 1880s Leighton had encouraged her to become an actress and his patronage of the beautiful Cockney girl and attempts to mould and refine her are said to have inspired George Bernard Shaw’s characters Professor Higgins and Eliza Doolittle in Pygmalion.

When Leighton died in January 1896, he was laid out in his studio, with the unfinished Clytie, which was very near completion, on an easel at the head of his coffin. Later that year, it was shown at the Royal Academy as the single work chosen to commemorate the artist's achievements.

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