Born in London, England, Clare Leighton's early efforts at painting were encouraged by her parents and her uncle Jack Leighton, an artist and illustrator. In 1915, she began formal studies at the Brighton College of Art, and during the early 1920s, continued her training at the Slade School of Fine Art.
Leighton executed her first wood engraving in 1922 while enrolled at the Central School of Art and Design in London. A year later her engravings were shown in the Society of Wood Engravers annual exhibition, and she began to receive critical attention. During this period she also taught in public and private schools and traveled in Europe.
During the late 1920s and 1930s, Leighton came to the United States on a number of lecture tours. At the onset of World War II, she moved to America. Initially she lived on Long Island but later moved to Baltimore. In 1943 Leighton taught at Duke University and in 1945 became an American citizen. She eventually settled in Woodbury, Connecticut, where she worked until the late 1980s.
Most often Leighton's prints show people engaged in various types of work or activity. Winnowers, Majorca was one of a series of wood engravings she made to illustrate her book Four Hedges: A Gardener's Chronicle.
During her extensive career, Leighton carved more than 900 woodblocks, and designed numerous book illustrations, bookplates, engravings, illustrations, and mosaics and stained glass windows. Although known primarily for her work as a printmaker, she was the author of seven books.
[This is an excerpt from the interactive companion program to the videodisc American Art from the National Gallery of Art. Produced by the Department of Education Resources, this teaching resource is one of the Gallery's free-loan educational programs.]