Frederick Leighton was born on December 3, 1830 in Scarborough. He was educated at University College School London and received his legal training on the European continent from Edward von Steinle and Giovanni Costa.
When in Florence, aged 24, he studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti. He lived in Paris from 1855 to 1859, where he met Ingres, Delacroix, Corot and Millet.
In 1860, he moved to London where he associated with the Pre-Raphaelites. In 1864 he became an associate of the Royal Academy and eventually in 1878 he became its President. His paintings represented Britain at the great 1900 Paris Exhibition.
Leighton was knighted at Windsor in 1878, and was created a baronet eight years later. He was the first painter to be given a peerage, in the New Year Honours List of 1896. The patent creating him Baron Leighton of Stretton in the County of Shropshire, was issued on 24 January 1896.
Frederick Leighton died the next day (25 January 1896) of angina pectoris.