In the second half of the nineteenth-century an extraordinary group of purpose-built studio-houses were built on the edge of London’s Holland Park. At their centre was the house built by Frederic Leighton from the mid-1860s. With its vast studio and exotic Arab Hall it provided an inspiration to other artists who commissioned houses of their own. Combining domestic accommodation with studio space and space in which to entertain, these houses provide fascinating insights into the wealth, status and taste of successful artists of the period. The lecture explores the houses of the Holland Park Circle to determine why these artists invested so much in the creation of their homes and the uses they then put them to.
Holland Park was formerly the grounds of the Jacobean mansion of Holland House. In the late 19th century a number of notable artists, designers and architects, including Frederic Leighton, G.F. Watts, Valentine Prinsep and William Holman Hunt, created an art colony here which became known as the Holland Park Circle. The area became one of the most desirable in London with houses designed by Norman Shaw and William Burges, and which are today occupied by wealthy celebrities.