The Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. Search over 215,000 works, 150,000 of which are illustrated from the 16th Century to the present day.

Advanced Collection search

Search the Collection

Lord Leighton and his family: drawings by Lord Leighton and Edward (?) Foster, circa 1834-50

5 Portraits in set

The collection consists of three drawings by Frederic Leighton – of himself and his two sisters – dating from 1848 to 1850 and two miniatures of Leighton’s parents by ?Edward Foster c.1834.[1] They were initially mounted together upon a swing frame, for display within the National Portrait Gallery.[2]

The five works came from an album belonging to Caroline Nias, which otherwise contained portraits of her own family. She presented them to the NPG in December 1926.[3] Her mother, Lady Nias (née Isabel Laing), and her grandparents were close friends of the Leightons.[4] It is unclear whether the portraits were given directly to the Nias family as a testament to the friendship, or acquired from a different owner at a later date. Emilie Barrington maintains the latter in her biography of Frederic Leighton (1906), where she records that permission to reproduce the portraits was granted by a ‘Mr H.S. Mendelssohn’.[5]

For portraits within the collection, see below

Elizabeth Heath

Footnotesback to top

1) Letter from Caroline Nias (possibly to James Milner), 4 Dec. 1926, NPG RP 2141, where attributed to Foster.
2) Internal memorandum, NPG RP 2141.
3) Letter from Caroline Nias (possibly to James Milner), 12 Dec. 1926, NPG RP 2141. See also NPG Report of the Trustees 1926–7, pp.5–6 (1200-1200D), NPG Archive.
4) Ormond & Ormond 1975, p.17.
5) The portraits, except NPG 2142(a), are reproduced in Barrington 1906, vol.1, pp.17, 37.

Referencesback to top

Barrington 1906
Barrington, E., The Life, Letters and Work of Frederic Baron Leighton of Stretton, 2 vols, London, 1906.

Ormond & Ormond 1975
Ormond, L., and R. Ormond, Lord Leighton, London, 1975.