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The Making of the Arab Hall at Leighton House

The Making of the Arab Hall at Leighton House

Thu, 2 Dec 2021 19:00 - 20:00 Greenwich Mean Time (UTC±0)

Tickets (£6 – £9.60) here.

Learn about the influences, conception, and construction of Frederick Leighton’s 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

Once you have registered for this event and your purchase has been verified, you will be emailed the Zoom meeting link the day before the session. If this event is fully booked, please join the waiting list. If you are no longer able to attend, please inform the office so that we can give your spot to someone else.

If you have any queries, please email the office at or call 020 7628 0255.

Terms and Conditions:

  1. If you wish to cancel your booking to a paid event, please send a refund request via Eventbrite. A full refund will be issued if your refund request is received 10 working days prior to the day of the event.
  2. The full delegate fee will be forfeited for non-attendance (for any reason) without prior notice or cancellation of your booking.
  3. A replacement delegate nominated and confirmed by you is permitted but must be confirmed in writing to prior to the event.
  4. If you wish to cancel your booking to a free event, please do so via Eventbrite as soon as possible so that your ticket can be reallocated.
  5. The BIID reserves the right to make changes to the programme.
  6. The BIID reserves the right to cancel the event if unavoidable circumstances arise.
  7. This event will be photographed and videoed. Attendance constitutes consent for these images/videos to be used, by the BIID and its partners, for promotional purposes.
  8. In compliance with the Data Protection Act, we must point out that the information on this form will be kept on a database.
  9. Your name may be shared with the venue.
  10. These terms and conditions shall be governed by and construed under the laws of England and Wales and you submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Courts of England and Wales.

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