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Members' Research Report Archive

The Art Collections and Patronage of Frederick Leyland

Robyn Asleson, Research Associate, 2013–2014

Giovanni Bellini, The Infant Bacchus, probably 1505/1510probably 1505/1510

Giovanni Bellini, The Infant Bacchus, probably 1505/1510, oil on panel transferred to panel, Samuel H. Kress Collection, 1961.9.5

The British shipping magnate Frederick R. Leyland (1832–1892) is best known today for his quarrel with James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903) over the Peacock Room (1876–1877)—the dining room Whistler spectacularly redecorated without Leyland’s sanction and that Leyland subsequently refused to pay for. My project will set this incident in context by examining the totality of Leyland’s activities as an art patron and collector. In addition to reconstructing his collection of contemporary British paintings, I am investigating Leyland’s influence on the artistic theory and practice that ultimately became known as the Aesthetic Movement. In particular, I am interested in Leyland’s promotion of synesthesia as a concern of Aesthetic painting; his role in the development of the Aesthetic interior; and the impact of his collection of Italian Renaissance paintings on the works he commissioned from contemporary artists.