Frederic Leighton, Athlete Wrestling with a Python
Commission for Leighton House
New Sculpture for a new museum: celebrating Leighton’s iconic work Athlete Wrestling with a Python.
A new cast of the sculpture was created for the reopening of Leighton House.
Leighton House is reopening after a transformative £9.6m refurbishment project
Among other things, this has equipped the museum with much needed step-free access, provided by a new lift co-located with a helical staircase.
With the support of The Henry Moore Foundation and in memory of supporter John Schaeffer AO, the museum commissioned Pangolin Editions to create a white 1-metre-high bronze cast of Athlete Wrestling with a Python (Frederic Leighton, 1877) for display at the base of this staircase.
The sculpture finds a perfect setting in this location, interacting with the dramatic lighting and architecture of the space – the helical form of the staircase echoing the snake as it wraps itself around the figure. This bespoke ‘new’ cast of Leighton’s masterpiece celebrates and gives new prominence to Leighton’s work as a sculptor, often overlooked.
The piece provides a striking focal point for the staircase, visible from all levels of the building. It creates a strong link between the historic house, Leighton’s lifework, and the newly created basement space, which is free for all visitors to access.
This cast perfectly reflects the museum’s aspirations, facilitating the appreciation of Leighton’s artistic legacy and highlighting its relevance in the contemporary world.