In Time of Peril appeared at the Royal Academy exhibition of 1897, the year that marked the triumphant 60th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s reign. Edmund Blair Leighton specialised in painting chivalric vignettes, which were popular with the Royal Academy and also reflected the popularity at the time of the Arthurian Revival.

A critic sagely observed in 1913 that the artist bridged the gulf between legendary life and modern existence, by portraying ‘the people of past generations with feelings that they belong equally to our own time’.

In a letter, Blair Leighton described the scene as ‘laid at the water gate of a monastery in the fourteenth century; the outcome of reading of the shelter afforded by such places to the women, children and treasure, of those who were hard driven, and in danger’. While the adults in the boat all look anxiously at the elderly friar, awaiting his permission to enter the sanctuary, our attention is captured by the child, who looks fearfully over his shoulder, suggesting that their enemies are close behind.

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  • Title: In Time of Peril
  • Creator: Edmund Blair Leighton
  • Creator Lifespan: 1853/1922
  • Creator Nationality: Great Britain
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Date Created: 1897
  • Physical Dimensions: w1689 x h1245 mm (Without frame)
  • Artist biography: Edmund Blair Leighton was born in 1852. He painted historical genre scenes, and specialised in medieval and Regency subjects. Leighton was educated at University College School, and later attended the Royal Academy Schools. He exhibited annually at the Royal Academy from 1878 to 1920. Leighton was a refined and careful artisan who produced well-executed and decorative paintings. Although he exhibited at the Royal Academy for more than forty years he was never made an Academician or and Associate. He died in 1922.
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Mackelvie Trust Collection, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki
  • External Link: Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki
  • Medium: oil on canvas

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