Frederick, Lord Leighton (1830 – 1896)
Jezebel and Ahab, c.1863
Scarborough-born, Leighton was one of the most celebrated artists during his lifetime. This painting, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1863, depicts a scene from the Old Testament’s story of Jezebel and Ahab being confronted by the prophet Elijah. The head of Elijah was modelled by famous 19th century actress and Leighton’s friend, Fanny Kemble. Although unusual to use a woman to pose as a male figure, Leighton would have used the drawing to set the male model when he stood for the figure of ‘Elijah’ in the final painting. The study for the head of Elijah is in the Tate’s collection. Fanny Kemble was a member of the famous Kemble theatrical family and niece of the celebrated tragic actress, Sarah Siddons.