Leighton House and Sambourne House, 2023

Leighton House and Sambourne House received the Elizabeth Hammond Grant in 2023 for the conservation of collection of dresses belonging to Marion and Maud Sambourne, that will appear in the 2024 exhibition, Out shopping: The dresses of Marion and Maud Sambourne (1880-1910).

Out shopping: The dresses of Marion and Maud Sambourne (1880-1910) will unveil the Sambourne House collection of dresses belonging to Marion and Maud Sambourne, showcasing unique pieces, some of them rare examples by leading designers of the era.

The exhibition will span across three spaces – the two exhibition galleries at Leighton House with an additional display and a documentary film at nearby Sambourne House, offering an immersive experience for visitors.

Marion Sambourne was the wife of Victorian illustrator Linley Sambourne. Their daughter, Maud, shared an artistic flair which she abandoned in pursuit of a prosperous marriage with Leonard Messel. This major exhibition will feature a curated selection of dresses they wore for special moments and social occasions, many of them of national significance as rare surviving examples by leading designers of the era. An intimate story of the lives of a middle-class mother and her affluent daughter, navigating through the late Victorian period and into the 20th century, a moment in history that significantly shaped the way fashion and shopping is consumed today.

The exhibition will include items which marked important moments in Marion and Maud’s lives, offering a detailed picture of their ‘mother and daughter’ relationship and how fashion informed their distinct personalities. Highlights include the blue skirt and jacket made by Sarah Fullerton Monteith which Marion wore to her daughter’s wedding; Maud’s embellished chiffon dress by Mascotte, and the lilac tea gown which she wore during her pregancy, the only maternity piece that survived in the collection.

To go on display, many of the dresses require conservation, which is being carried out by leading textile conservator Janie Lightfoot in her London studio. Encompassing extensive research and painstaking work, this side of the project has been funded with the help of our Elizabeth Hammond Grant among other grants and donations.

The exhibition will span across three spaces, offering a thorough, immersive experience into the worlds of dress making and early 20th century shopping experience. At Leighton House, the collection of dresses will be on display in the Verey Exhibition Gallery alongside objects from the collections at Sambourne House and from the Sambourne archive, such as letters, receipts and drawings.

The Tavolozza Drawings Gallery will present 'Out in Paris',  a selection of street photography by artist Linley Sambourne, taken during a weekend out in Paris in 1906.  Linley was an avid photographer, often using photos he took as an aid for the production of his Punch cartoons and illustrations.

The exhibition journey continues at nearby Sambourne House, with a small display as well as a documentary film on the conservation process, providing with additional insights into the family life of the Sambournes and the opportunity to explore their ‘house beautiful’ designed in the so-called Aesthetic style.

The exhibition 'Out Shopping: The dresses of Marion and Maud Sambourne (1880-1910)'  opens 23 March – 20 October 2024 at Leighton House and Sambourne House, London.

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