Frederick Lord Leighton's debut Royal Academy painting, Cimabue's Celebrated Madonna is Carried in Procession through the Streets of Florence, hangs above the Gallery's main staircase. Yet this is a fascinating depiction of what is now known to be Duccio's Rucellai Madonna being received in Florence.
Leighton's painting tells us much about the Victorian cult of beauty, the 19th-century revival of interest in Early Renaissance altarpieces, and ideas about the progression of art.
In this talk, art historian Christina Bradstreet considers Leighton’s painting in the context of competing Victorian ideals about the elevating purpose of history painting and the pleasures of art for art’s sake.
Focus in on one painting with our talks in the Gallery, or explore wider themes in the collection at our in-depth theatre talks.