The Making of the Arab Hall at Leighton House

The Making of the Arab Hall at Leighton House
Contributed By: events coordinator
Organizing Institution: British Institute of Interior Design
Start Date: December 2, 2021 (22:00)
End Date: December 2, 2021 (23:00 +03)
Cost: £6 – £9.60
– California – United States
Learn about the influences, conception, and construction of Frederick Leightons magnificent Arab Hall.

The Arab Hall, with its beautiful tiles, wooden lattices, gold mosaics and soaring dome captures the imagination of visitors today, just as it did when it was first revealed to the public in 1881.

The first steps towards its creation can be traced to Frederic Leighton’s trip to Algeria; in the next decade he made many more trips to countries around the Mediterranean, always looking, sketching, and collecting.

Join Dr Melanie Gibson as she revisits some of the places he travelled to and investigates how the ideas and objects he collected were combined and displayed in this spectacular space.


In this evening lecture, guests will gain an insight into Frederic Leighton’s travels to Turkey, Egypt and Syria from 1857-1877 and how his ideas and collection were shaped by these experiences.

Dr Gibson will also reveal how George Aitchison and Frederic Leighton conceived the Arab Hall and how William De Morgan, Walter Crane and others contributed to its planning and construction.


  • An understanding of how an Arab-style interior came to be created in late Victorian London by the eminent artist and President of the Royal Academy, Frederic Leighton.
  • An introduction to Middle Eastern decorating elements such as coloured glass windows (qamariyya), wooden window lattices (mashrabiyya), polychrome tiles from Damascus and Iznik.


Anyone with an interest in Middle Eastern decorating techniques and influences and the history of late Victorian architecture and interiors.


Dr Melanie Gibson is a trustee of The Friends of Leighton House. She is the Editor of the Gingko Art Series and convenes the Islamic Art module of the Postgraduate Diploma in Asian Art at SOAS. Since 2005 she has lectured on the ceramics and glass of the Islamic world for SOAS, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Courtauld Institute and the Museum of Islamic Art, Qatar. Her research focuses on the ceramics and glass of the Islamic world as well as the reception and use of Islamic pattern in 19th-century British design. She is currently doing research for a book on the Arab Hall.

Additional Information

Advertised price does not include VAT

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