Tall story: Brilliant sketches by an Englishman which were found in a dusty folder show how the Eiffel Tower was built

By Daniel Miller

It was a wonder of modern engineering when it was completed in 1890 and remained the tallest building in the world for an astonishing 41 years.

Now, brilliant drawings by a young English artist of the Eiffel Tower as it was being built have been found hidden away in a dusty folder. They are revealed here for the first time and show the tower’s construction in intricate detail.

The sketches have remained in the family of artist Warwick Herbert Draper since he drew them as a young student in the city between 1887 and 1890.

The never-seen-before pictures show the entire process of the tower being built as well as Parisians enjoying the new attraction in their city.

Detail: A series of sketches have been uncovered by a young British student showing the building of the Eiffel tower. This picture shows the summit with stairs leading to the lighthouse at the very top

They include details of the geology of the area, the foundations, the metal being worked on and people going up in the lifts and enjoying the tower.

Each drawing is annotated and shows what a talent Draper had, combining draughtsmanship and human study.

It is thought he visited Paris several times during the period in which the tower was built and each time sketched what was going on.

The drawings were passed down through his family and his grandson John Ritchie recently found them tucked away in a folder.

He has now decided to sell them at auction where they could fetch several thousand pounds.

In this picture a rudimentary crane is shown hoisting steel sections to workers building a part of the structure. The sketches have remained in the family of English artist Warwick Herbert Draper since they were drawn between 1887 and 1890
Toil: A gang of riveters at work during the construction of the tower. Drawn in black pen, the 17 sketches show the entire process of the tower being built
Draper is thought to have visited Paris several times during the period the tower was built and each time sketched what was going on

Deborah Doyle, from auctioneers Duke’s of Dorchester, Dorset, said: ‘The drawings are of great interest as they show different stages of the Eiffel Tower being constructed.Draper was obviously a very talented draughtsman.’

‘These small drawings show first the geological sections of the strata at the foot of the tower, the position of the four foundation blocks and several drawings of workers at work including one of the Edoux lifts with people changing cars at a height of 650ft.

‘The final drawing of the summit of the Eiffel Tower shows the light-house, laboratories, and the Edoux lift.’

One of Draper’s earliest drawings show the creation of one of the four concrete bases at the foot of the tower
This drawing shows a cross section of one of the lower end of one of the main beams

Draper went on to work as a barrister but continued to draw and paint – skills that he taught himself.

He qualified for the bar in 1898 and later lived at Kelmscott House in Hammersmith, west London, the former home of artist William Morris.

After Morris’s death in 1896, Hammersmith became the centre of the Arts and Crafts movement and a magnet for artists including Frank Brangwyn, Eric Gill and Mary Fedden.

Draper was a leading figure in a range of voluntary and political activities in Hammersmith and Chiswick.

Mr Ritchie, from Weymouth, said: ‘I don’t know much about my grandfather but he worked as a barrister and I believe his art was self-taught.

‘I don’t know how long he was in Paris or whether he visited several times during the construction of the tower.

‘The drawings have been in a folder and they are the type of thing that people might want to see.’

Sketches showing two Parisians going up in the lift and the ticket office at the foot of the tower 
This drawing shows people entering their names at the Figaro newspaper office on the second level of the tower

‘I think he must have been quite a character.’

The Eiffel Tower stands 1,063ft high and remains the tallest building in Paris. It is also the most visited paid-for attraction in the world.

It was named after its designer, the engineer Gustave Eiffel, and was built as the entrance to the 1889 World’s Fair.

Upon its completion, the Eiffel Tower became the tallest building in the world – a title it held for 41 years.

The drawings are being sold at auction on September 29.

Published by the Daily Mail 5 September 2011

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