Self-portrait, 1882.

G. D. Leslie was born on 2 July 1835 at No. 12 Pineapple Place, St. John's Wood, Marylebone, in London. He was the third and youngest son and sixth child of well-known genre artist Charles Robert Leslie R.A. and his wife Harriet Honour Stone. George received his early art instruction from his father and at Cary's (previously called Sass's) Academy. He also copied pictures at Hampton Court with the encouragement of his father. In April 1854 he was admitted as a student in the Royal Academy Schools. He acted for a time as an assistant to Sir Edwin Landseer. He first exhibited pictures in 1857, both at the British Institution and the Royal Academy. He continued to exhibit every year at the Royal Academy until his retirement. He also exhibited at the Society of British Artists, the Dudley Gallery, and the Grosvenor Gallery. In 1859 his father died leaving him entirely to his own resources. His early work showed the influence of the Pre-Raphaelites but he soon became associated with the St. John's Wood Clique. By 1871 he had left his home in Abercorn Place in St. John's Wood, and was living close by at 8 Grove End Road. His connection with The Clique, however, was more one of friendly intimacy and neighbourhood than of style or subject.

Leslie was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1868 and a full member in 1876. Unlike many of his fellow members of The Clique he never visited or studied on the continent with the exception of spending one summer in Denmark. He generally spent his summers somewhere on the banks of the Thames, painting out of doors whenever possible. He married Lydia Fenwick on July 20, 1871 at Ealing. The couple eventually had six children, four boys and two girls. Their son Peter Leslie also became an artist. By 1884 G. D. Leslie was sufficiently successful that the family was able to move out of London and from 1884-1901 resided at their house by the Thames named "Riverside" in St. Leonard's Lane in Wallingford, Oxfordshire. His next-door neighbours were the artist James Hayllar and his family. From 1906, following his retirement, Leslie lived at "Compton House" in Lindfield, Sussex. He died there on February 21, 1921. In addition to his work as an artist he was also a writer with his most important book being The Inner Life of the Royal Academy, published by John Murray in 1914.


"English Painters of the Present Day. XVII. – George D. Leslie, A.R.A." The Portfolio I (1870): 177-182.

Meynell, Wilfrid. "Our Living Artists. George Dunlop Leslie." The Magazine of Art III (1880) 232-36.

Meynell, Wilfrid. "The Art of Mr. G. D. Leslie, R.A." The Windsor Magazine XXII (July 1905): 125-40.

Meynell, Wilfrid, ed. "G. D. Leslie, R.A." in Some Modern Artists and Their Work. Cassell & Co. Ltd., 1883, 124-131.

Monkhouse, Cosmo. “A Pre-Raphaelite Collection.” Magazine of Art. 6 (November 1882-October 1883): 62-70. Internet Archive version of a copy in the University of Toronto Library. Web. 8 September 2013.

Taylor, Tom. "English Painters of the Present Day. XVII. – George D. Leslie, A.R.A. The Portfolio I (1870): 177-182.

Taylor, Tom. "G. D. Leslie A.R.A.," Chapter XII from English Painters of the Present Day. London: Seeley, Jackson and Halliday, 1871, 68-73.

Created 1 September 2015

Biography added 7 August 2023