We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more
  Louis Haghe (1806–1885), by unknown engraver, pubd 1885 (after M. J. Ganz) Louis Haghe (1806–1885), by unknown engraver, pubd 1885 (after M. J. Ganz)
Haghe, Louis (1806–1885), lithographer and watercolour painter, was born in Tournai, Belgium, on 17 March 1806. His father and grandfather both practised as architects in Tournai and it was expected that he would follow suit. As a child he was encouraged to draw in his father's office, and this exposure to an architectural environment may have determined his predilections as an artist. Between the ages of ten and fifteen he was educated in the college at Tournai; he also attended a local drawing academy and was taught watercolour painting by a French exile, the chevalier de la Barrière. This was about the time the relatively new process of lithography was being taken up in various parts of Europe. When the first lithographic press in Tournai was set up by the chevalier de la Barrière and Dewasme, Haghe was employed as an assistant. While still only seventeen he contributed with the chevalier de la Barrière and J. B. De Jonghe to a Collection des principales vues des Pays-Bas (1822–3), both as an original draughtsman and as a lithographer working from the drawings of others. While this publication was in production his former teacher returned to France, leaving him to complete the work with De Jonghe and also to instruct a young English visitor named Maxwell in lithography. This chance contact with this otherwise unrecorded person led Haghe to London. Attracted by the prospect of work he travelled to England, where he settled for good around 1823.

Haghe is next recorded in 1825, when he lithographed some of the plates for a book for artists, George Simpson's The Anatomy of the Bones and Muscles (1825), and two plates for The Manx Sketch Book, ed. T. Ashe (1825). In December of the same year he lithographed Three Views of Hereford (1826). All the earliest lithographs Haghe drew in England were printed by William Day of 59 Great Queen Street, London. This was the beginning of a connection between artist and printer that lasted until Haghe gave up lithography in 1852 to concentrate on watercolour painting. It is not clear how binding the association was, but by 1833 the style ‘Day & Haghe’ made its first appearance in directories. By this time the firm had moved to 17 Gate Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields—though Haghe did most of his work from no. 6. He was the senior draughtsman at the press, and William Simpson, who joined the firm just before Haghe left it, claimed that the firm owed its reputation to him (Simpson, 204). In the 1830s Day and Haghe provided the first real competition in Britain to Hullmandel's press, and were appointed successively lithographers to the king and queen. By the time Haghe left the firm he had secured a reputation as one of the finest lithographic draughtsmen in Europe, and Day and Haghe had become the leading printers of pictorial lithographs in Britain.

Haghe does not appear to have been particularly active as a lithographer in the 1820s, though the set of twenty-four vignetted lithographs he produced for J. R. Planché's Lays and Legends of the Rhine (1827–9) are among the most delicate and meticulous of early English lithographs. At this stage he may have divided his time between lithography and watercolour painting, as he was elected a member of the New Society (later the Royal Institute) of Painters in Water Colours in 1835. He was the major overseas contributor to Baron Taylor's Voyages pittoresques et romantiques dans l'ancienne France (1820–78), for which he made nearly eighty lithographs; the majority were from his own drawings, the remainder after French artists. They were printed mostly by the firm of Day (and Haghe), though some were printed in Paris. Haghe's lithographs for this one publication spanned his whole lithographic career in England. His earliest prints for its Franche Comté volume (1825) may even have been made before any other lithographs he produced in England; by the time his last print for the publication appeared in 1854 he had retired from lithography. Some of his most carefully rendered tonal lithographs are to be found in the early volumes of the Voyages pittoresques.

Haghe's later reputation in lithography was mainly as a reproductive draughtsman, though he produced three series of his own architectural interiors and exteriors, Sketches in Belgium and Germany (1840, 1845, 1850), in the tinted style of lithography. In this period he came to be associated with publications of tinted lithographs made after other artists, some copies of which were issued coloured by hand. In the 1840s he was the most prolific exponent of this temporarily fashionable style of lithography and was greatly in demand as a reproductive lithographer. The most ambitious of these publications, and the one for which he is best known, is David Roberts's The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia (1842–9). With the help of assistants, he was responsible for putting Roberts's drawings on to stone in the tinted style of lithography: there were nearly 250 such images, and all involved at least two stones, many three, and a few even more. The burden of such work must have been demanding, and may even have prompted Haghe's early retirement as a lithographer. Roberts appreciated his skills in interpreting his work, and remarked that he reproduced the views ‘with a masterly vigour and boldness which none but a painter like him could have transferred to stone’ (Abbey, 341). Ruskin took a different view, and referred to Haghe's lithographs in general as ‘conventional, forced, and lifeless’ and those for The Holy Land as ‘a libel on Mr. Roberts’ (Works, 3.220, 598).

Haghe's last major work in lithography was for G. Fossati's Aya Sofia, Constantinople (1852). In the course of the twenty-five years he spent as a lithographic draughtsman he changed his style radically in response to developments in the process and changes in taste. For the first ten years his work is characterized by its carefully laid tones and its confident and stylish handling of the crayon in foregrounds. When he turned to tinted lithography from the late 1830s his crayon work became more open and less tonal, the tint stone serving as an artistic prop for effects in skies and highlights.

After his retirement from lithography, Haghe established a second career as a watercolourist. His favourite subjects, architectural scenes in Belgium and other parts of northern Europe, reflect the nostalgia of the time for the middle ages. In 1853 he visited Rome with Roberts, and between 1864 and 1865 he produced a striking series of thirteen large views of St Peter's, which are in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. He was president of the New Society of Painters in Water Colours from 1873 to 1884 and exhibited over 200 works there from 1835 until the year of his death. He also produced oil paintings, which he exhibited occasionally at the British Institution. He is represented by original works in several public collections in Britain and abroad, but, perhaps unjustifiably, his conscientiously executed paintings have not attracted as much attention as his lithographs. In 1834 he was awarded a gold medal in Paris for his lithography, in 1847 he was elected an associate member of the Belgian Academy, and later he became a member of the Antwerp Academy; he was also a knight of the order of Leopold I. His output as an artist was all the more remarkable because it was achieved in spite of the handicap of a deformed right hand. His watercolours in the Victoria and Albert Museum are signed ‘L. Haghe’ and dated. Although his lithographic work was not normally signed, imprints on his original lithographs include ‘L. Haghe del’ and ‘L. Haghe del et lith.’ and those on his reproductive work ‘L. Haghe lithog.’ and ‘on stone [zinc] by L. Haghe’. He died at 103 Stockwell Road, Surrey, on 9 March 1885, leaving two sons and a daughter, and was buried in Norwood cemetery. At his death his effects were valued for probate at £16,018.

Charles Haghe (d. 1888), lithographer, worked as an assistant to his elder brother with Day and Haghe from the early 1830s and continued as a reproductive lithographer with Day for some years after his brother gave up the process. He worked on many publications, the best known being W. Simpson's The Seat of War in the East (1855–6). He died on 24 January 1888.

Michael Twyman

Sources  

[W. Simpson], ‘Our contemporaries: Louis Haghe’, Printing Times and Lithographer (15 Oct 1877), 203–5 · ‘British artists, their style and character: no. XLI, Louis Haghe’, Art Journal, 21 (1859), 13–15 · M. Twyman, Lithography, 1800–1850 (1970) · J. R. Abbey, Travel in aquatint and lithography, 1770–1860, 2 vols. (1956–7) · M. Twyman, A directory of London lithographic printers, 1800–1850 (1976), 30 · G. Wakeman and G. D. R. Bridson, A guide to nineteenth-century colour printers (1975), 30–32 · W. S. Williams, ‘On lithography’, Transactions of the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce (1847–8), 226–50 · Mallalieu, Watercolour artists · Thieme & Becker, Allgemeines Lexikon · Graves, Artists · Library of the Fine Arts, 1 (1831), 44–58 · Library of the Fine Arts, 1 (1831), 201–16 · J. Ballantine, The life of David Roberts (1866) · The works of John Ruskin, ed. E. T. Cook and A. Wedderburn, library edn, 39 vols. (1903–12) · M. Hardie, Water-colour painting in Britain, ed. D. Snelgrove, J. Mayne, and B. Taylor, 3 vols. (1966–8) · CGPLA Eng. & Wales (1885) · DNB

Archives  

priv. coll., catalogue of the library and collection of the engravings of Louis Haghe · priv. coll., catalogue of the whole of the remaining works of Louis Haghe


Likenesses  

wood-engraving (after photograph by M. J. Ganz), NPG; repro. in ILN (28 March 1885) [see illus.]

Wealth at death  

£16,018 1s. 2d.: resworn probate, Aug 1885, CGPLA Eng. & Wales