In Time of Peril; Edmund Blair Leighton; 1897; MU/81


In Time of Peril

About this object

Edmund Blair Leighton specialised in the historical genre that stood at the apex of the academic system, edifying audiences with scenes of chivalry as well as entertaining them with glimpses of Lady Godiva. In Time of Peril appeared at the Royal Academy exhibition of 1897, the year that marked the triumphant sixtieth anniversary of Queen Victoria's reign. It depicts two young princes spirited away from danger and being comforted by their glamorous mother. The royal refugees and their precious cargo arrive at a protective monastery - safe from harm, if not from public scrutiny. It was a canny choice of subject, for dynastic anxieties inevitably lurk in the wake of aging monarchs. Following its acquisition by the Mackelvie Trust, In Time of Peril quickly became one of the most popular pictures in the Gallery, copied by generations of Auckland's art students. As with many other art galleries in Australia and New Zealand founded in the later nineteenth century, Auckland's collection is particularly rich in late Victorian and Edwardian academic paintings. Despite suffering the hostility of modernist curators, such works nevertheless remain perennial favourites among Gallery visitors, who appreciate their technical qualities as well as the evocative stories they tell. Living in the colonial outpost characterised by E. H. McCormick as 'last, loneliest, most loyal', New Zealanders have always been susceptible to royalist fantasy. (from The Guide, 2001)


Edmund Blair Leighton

Maker Role


Date Made


Medium and Materials

oil on canvas


1245 x 1689mm

Subject and Association Description

children, royalty, princes, boats, gowns, Medievalism, oars

Credit Line

Mackelvie Trust Collection, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki

Object Type


Object number


Copyright Licence  

Public Domain - No rights reserved - no known copyright restrictions No rights reserved - no known copyright restrictions

This object is from