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‘An Oriental Kiosk’: The Building of the ‘Arab Hall’ at Leighton House in London

Standing at 12 Holland Park Road in London is Leighton House, formerly the home and studio of the British artist Frederic Leighton (1830–96) (Fig. 1). Although the red brick exterior resembles the buildings around it, the interior is quite unique. In addition to a large studio on the first floor, the house features an extension with a central fountain and tiled walls that recreates the type of reception room found in 19th century Damascus or Cairo, as well as other details inspired by Islamic architecture and design. This article tells the story of the collaboration between Leighton, the architect George Aitchison (1825–1910) and artists such as Walter Crane (1845–1915) and William De Morgan (1839–1917) to create the house and its remarkable ‘Arab Hall’. A public museum since the 1920s, the house is now in the final phase of a conservation project to recreate its appearance at the time of Leighton’s death.

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March/April 2020
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