Louis Haghe (1806-1885), lithographer and water-color painter, born at Tournay in Belgium on 17 March 1806, was son of an architect there, from whom as a child he received instruction in drawing, with a view to practising the same profession. He also attended a drawing academy at Tournay, and from ten to fifteen years of age studied at the college there. Haghe's right hand was deformed from his birth, and his works were executed entirely with the left hand.
On leaving college he received lessons in water-color painting from Chevalier de la Barriere, a French emigrant. The latter, though not a lithographer himself, set up a lithographic press at Tournay in conjunction with M. Dewasme, and Haghe was invited to assist. Haghe made drawings for a series of 'Vues Pittoresques de la Belgique,' prepared by J. B. De Jonghe, the landscape-painter, for production at this press, and on the return of De la Barriere to France, helped De Jonghe to carry the work through. He was then only seventeen.
A young Englishman, named Maxwell, who came to study lithography under De la Barriere, but was instructed by Haghe, persuaded Haghe to go with him to England. This Haghe did, and thenceforth England was his home. Becoming acquainted with William Day, the publisher in Gate Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields, he entered into a kind of partnership with him. A series of works were produced by them, which raised lithography to perhaps the highest point to which it ever attained. Haghe was a first-rate draughtsman, and his facility and ingenuity made his lithographs works of art in themselves, and not mere reproductions of the original paintings.
Among the works published by him and Day were Vivian's 'Spanish Scenery' and 'Spain and Portugal,' Lord Monson's 'Views in the Department of the Isere,' Atkinson's 'Views and Sketches in Afghanistan,' and David Roberts's 'Holy Land and Egypt' (a work which occupied from eight to nine years). He often visited Belgium, and many of the architectural sketches which he brought back were published in lithography, in three sets, entitled 'Sketches in Belgium and Germany.' His last work in lithography was published in 1862, being a set of views of St. Sophia at Constantinople. He had just before completed a large and elaborate lithograph of David Roberts's 'Destruction of Jerusalem,' which unfortunately failed in the printing.
Haghe was also continually occupied in water-color painting, and in 1835 was elected a member of the New Society (now the Royal Institute) of Painters in Water-colours. He was the society's chief supporter in its early years, but did not produce any important work till 1852. At that date he forsook lithography altogether for water-color painting, and rapidly won for himself as high a place among water-color painters as he already held among lithographers. In 1854 he exhibited 'The Council of War at Courtray,' which passed into the Vernon collection, was engraved in the 'Art Journal' for 1854 (by J. Godfrey), and is now in the National Gallery.
He continued to exhibit regularly until his death. His favorite subjects were old Flemish interiors, which gave plenty of scope for his architectural training, but at the same time he was often occupied by Italian subjects and scenes from English history. He was president of the society from 1873 till 1884. In 1856 he made his first venture in oil, sending to the British Institution 'The Choir of Santa Maria Novella at Florence,' but he never attained the same success in that method.
Haghe received in 1834 the gold medal at Paris for lithography, in 1847 was elected an associate member of the Belgian Academy, and later a member of the Antwerp Academy; he also received the cross of the order of Leopold, the second-class gold medal at Paris in 1855 for water-color painting, and the gold medal of the Manchester Academy. He died at Stockwell Green, Brixton, 9 March 1885, leaving two sons and a daughter. Hague's personal character secured for him the affection of his fellow-artists. Examples of his work are at the South Kensington Museum and in the print room at the British Museum. A fine set of drawings by him of St. Peter's, Rome, are in the Bethnal Green Museum.
Charles Hague (d. 1888), lithographer, an artist of great merit, was younger brother of the above, and devoted his life to helping in his brother's work. He died 24 Jan. 1888.
[Art Journal, 1859, p. 13; Printing Times and Lithographer, 15 Oct. 1877; Athenæum, 14 March 1885; Champlin and Perkins's Dict. of Artists; Immerzeels Dict. of Dutch and Flemish Artists, and Kramm's continuation of the same; Ottley's Dict. of Recent and Living Painters; Arnold's Library of the Fine Arts, i. 201.]
Lionel Henry Cust, Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 23. pg. 438.