Perhaps no painter captures the romance of the English Regency better than Edmund Blair Leighton.
Just as we, today, are enchanted by the nostalgic feeling from this era of elegance and extravagance, balls and duels, eligible bachelors and debutantes, so too was Edmund Blair Leighton (1851 – 1922)—a Victorian painter of historical genre scenes.
Leighton loved to paint highly detailed, idealized depictions of the time of regency novelists like Jane Austen, and Romantic poets like Percy Bysshe Shelley.
Strictly speaking, the Regency covers the nine years from 1811 to 1820 when King George III was deemed unfit to rule and his son, the Prince of Wales ruled England as Prince Regent before his accession as King George IV.
But the broadest definition of the period, characterized by trends in fashion, architecture, culture, and politics, begins with the French Revolution of 1789 and ends with Queen Victoria’s rise to power.
Known as “the first gentleman of England” for his charm and culture, George IV commissioned several immense building projects including the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, the remodeling of Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, and the foundation of King’s College London and the National Gallery.
The Regency was a time of war and glory overseas and cultural awakening at home.