Axel Haig


1835 – 1921


Who was Axel Haig?

Axel Haig was a Swedish-born artist and illustrator. His paintings, illustrations and etchings, undertaken for himself and on behalf of many of the foremost architects of the Victorian period made him "the Piranesi of the Gothic Revival."

Axel Haig was born on 10 November 1835, on the island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea." His father was a landowner and timber merchant." Haig was apprenticed as a shipbuilder at the government dockyard at Karlskrona and in 1856 went to Glasgow for a further period of training at a firm of Clydeside shipbuilders." But his interests had turned to architecture and in 1859, he undertook a new apprenticeship as a draughtsman in the offices of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners." After seven years there, he launched himself as an architectural artist. The middle years of the nineteenth century saw an explosion in the practice of architectural competitions. The wealth generated by the empire and The Industrial Revolution created the necessary conditions for a vast expansion in civic construction. Commissions for government offices, town halls, churches for private benefactors, railway termini were all put out to tender and competing architects required draughtsmen to illustrate their plans. In 1866 Haig met William Burges when Burges retained him to illustrate his designs for the Royal Courts of Justice in The Strand. Haig produced a series of watercolour illustrations that were "an immediate sensation." The competition's winner, George Edmund Street is said to have remarked, "I wouldn't mind being beaten by drawings like those."

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on July 23, 2013


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