‘There can be no doubt, whatever the rapid advance made in the art of sculpture during the last thirty years was, to a considerable extent, due to the sympathy and the interest which Leighton gave to it’
– Hamo Thornycroft (Barrington, 1906, p.6)
Frederic Lord Leighton was one of the most prolific and influential artists in Victorian Britain. Born in Scarborough, he studied and worked in Europe, primarily Italy and Paris, before settling in London in 1859. He quickly rose as one of Britain’s brightest stars and became an associate member of the Royal Academy in 1864. He was elected president of the RA in 1878 and maintained the position for almost twenty years until his death in 1896.
Although Leighton is primarily known for his paintings, he was also a fundamental figure in the development of late-Victorian sculpture. The exhibition of his first ever model, An Athlete Struggling with a Python in 1877 was heralded as signalling a rebirth of the sculptural form, prompting a movement known as New Sculpture. This piece was then followed by two other works, The Sluggard (1885) and Needless Alarms (1886). These works cemented Leighton’s influence and position in the medium of bronze sculpture.