Studio Sittings: Photographing Royal Academicians, Frink and Blake, Leighton House Museum

Studio Sittings: Photographing Royal Academicians, Frink and Blake, Leighton House Museum

Leighton House Museum opens a new photographic exhibition celebrating some of the most applauded Royal Academicians of recent times, shown in the context of their studios. Including images of Dame Elisabeth Frink, Sir Peter Blake, Antony Gormley and Grayson Perry, Studio Sittings: Photographing Royal Academicians is a collection of contemporary photographs of present day artists shown their Victorian counterparts, drawing fascinating parallels between the nature of the artist’s studio today and in Victorian times.

The exhibition is held at Leighton House Museum, the former home and studio of Frederic, Lord Leighton, President of the Royal Academy 1878-1896. As one of the foremost painters and sculptors of his generation, Frederic, Lord Leighton, was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy from 1864 and became its president in 1878, overseeing the organisation until his death in 1896. His former home is now transformed into Studio Sittings, exploring both the nature of the artist’s studio and the artist’s relationship with their personal, creative space through the photographs from the past and present day.

All the images have been recorded by Anne Purkiss, who has been photographing Royal Academicians for over 25 years. Shown together, they provide a telling insight into the working environment and creative spaces of today’s foremost artists, from warehouses and farm buildings, a garden shed and a room in a high-rise block of flats to a converted chapel.

Next to Purkiss’ work there will also be a collection of images depicting Leighton and his RA associates, also posed in their studios. Collected especially for Studio Sittings, the photographs illustrate how the concept of artist as celebrity was as endemic in Victorian times as today; Leighton’s era was the first to see photographs of artists widely published and collected, with purpose-built studio-houses playing a central part in establishing the prestige which artists enjoyed at the end of the 19th century.

Studio Sittings: Photographing Royal Academicians, Frink and Blake, until 2 June, Leighton House Museum, 12 Holland Park Road London W14 8LZ.

All images courtesy of Anne Purkiss.
1. Lisa Milroy
2. Sandra Blow
3. Antony Gormley