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.

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. HaigÂ’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 BurgesÂ’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 HaigÂ’s illustrations for Burges to enter the InstituteÂ’s collections.


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

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