The Library, Tower House, Kensington by Axel Herman Haig

This exquisite watercolour shows the interior of the library at Tower House, the London home designed by the Pre-Raphaelite architect William Burges (1827-1881) for himself.

Details

Medium:
Watercolor, heightened with bodycolour
Dimensions:
51 × 68.5cm
Art Fund grant:
£20,000 ( Total: £81,520)
Acquired in:
2015
Vendor:
Jean Mallock

Construction of the house began in 1876 and was completed in 1878. Burges liked to commission artists to make presentation drawings of his work and Axel Herman Haig was one of his favourite collaborators. Born in Sweden, Haig arrived in Scotland in 1856 and later moved to London where he set himself up as a professional architectural artist. Burges was his first major employer in this field. Haig’s watercolour shows the extraordinary level of detail present in the medieval-style room, including furniture also designed by Burges. The drawing was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1880 and is the only record in colour of an interior at Tower House as the architect intended it to be seen. Burges died after living in the house for just three years and this is the last work he commissioned from Haig. After Burges’s death, the RIBA bought many of his drawings, including 458 relating to Tower House. This watercolour makes an important complement to these records and is the fourth and most splendid of Haig’s illustrations for Burges to enter the Institute’s collections.

Provenance

William Burges; thence by bequest to his sister-in-law Mary Russell Burges; by descent to present vendor.

Venue details

RIBA Library Drawings and Archives Collections RIBA Architecture Study Rooms, Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, LONDON London SW7 2RL 020 7307 3708 www.architecture.com

Entry details

Free to all

Access is on a pre-booked research appointment basis at 10.15am and 2.15pm on Tue, Wed and Fri. Closes at 5pm.

For Study Room appointments please e-mail: drawings&archives@riba.org or phone the RIBA Study Room desk on 020 7307 3708.

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