The Leighton Bequest

On his death in 1896, Frederick, Lord Leighton, President of the Royal Academy, left ten thousand pounds to the Royal Academy without condition as to how the money should be spent. After some deliberation, the Academy decided to set up a Leighton Bequest fund, from which the income should be spent on

'...acquiring or commissioning works of decorative painting, sculpture and architecture. The paintings to be placed in public institutions; the sculpture in or on public buildings, and in the open air, such as in parks, squares and streets; the architecture, alone or in combination with sculpture, to be in the form of fountains, seats in marble, bronze or stone, lampposts and similar objects for the adornment of public places.'

The fund was set up so that the income need not be spent annually, but could be reserved for up to five years to accumulate sufficient to buy more expensive art works. The first work so funded was only put up in 1908 - a bronze lamp post in Horse Guards Parade, London (by S Nicholas Babb). The subsequent purchases and commissions were largely statuary and memorials. The best known is probably the statue of Sir Joshua Reynolds, the first President of the Royal Academy in front of the Royal Academy in the courtyard of Burlington House, Piccadilly (by Alfred Drury, commissioned 1917, and finally emplaced in 1933). In the 1930s, the RA itself gained statues of Gainsborough (by Thomas Brock) and Turner (by William McMillan), and a replica of the memorial to Constable in St Pauls. The fund also paid for memorials to Constable and other PRAs in St Pauls itself. Among other works, notable are Hamo Thornycroft's The Sower in Kew Gardens, and the Hylas in the Regent's Park Rose Garden by Henry Pegram. Another is the graceful Oriental Girl (1953) by Gilbert Ledward which stands in Sloane Square.

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