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Frederick Leyland (1831-1892)

Wealthy ship owner who was a patron of Victorian avant-garde art

Leyland began his career as a book keeper at John Bibby & Sons, Liverpool's oldest independent shipping line. He was a partner by the time he was 30, and bought the company ten years later.

Frederick Leyland steam ship The Leyland Line’s SS Oporto of Liverpool. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The newly-named Leyland Line ran transatlantic steamships, and made its owner a fortune. Leyland used his wealth to set up a major art collection. He collected Italian Renaissance paintings, and commissioning new work from artists including Dante Gabriel Rossetti and James McNeill Whistler.

Frederick Leyland – drawing room Leyland’s drawing room at his house in Princes Gate, London, was filled with paintings by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Leyland is recognised today for his financial support of these experimental ‘avant-garde’ artists. Despite his passion for art however, it seems he was rather cold and aloof in person. His marriage failed, and he is perhaps best remembered for a bitter and lifelong dispute with Whistler over unpaid bills.

Frederick Leyland – portrait of Frances Leyland’s wife Frances was immortalised by Dante Gabriel Rossetti in this painting called Monna Rosa. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Frederick Leyland’s stunningly ornate tomb is one of the most distinctive in the cemetery. It was designed by the renowned Pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones in 1892.

Ivy detail from tomb (Credit: Greywolf)

The chest tomb is made from Portland stone, with a copper roof, and is covered with floral copper work. The wrought iron railings that surround it are topped with ornate lilies. It’s the only tomb created by Burne-Jones, who is best known as a painter and stained glass designer. It’s listed Grade 2* by Historic England for its significance.

Ivy detail from tomb (Credit: Max A Rush)

Further information

Leyland’s ornate tomb

Leyland’s ornate tomb (Credit: Greywolf)

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