Hill was born in Birmingham, England on September 11, 1829. After
coming to the U.S. in 1844, he settled with his family in Taunton,
Massachusetts and worked in Boston as a carriage painter. His art
studies begun at the Pennsylvania Academy under Peter Rothermel. During
the 1850s Hill painted in Massachusetts and often in the White
Mountains of New Hampshire with a group of artists that included Asher
Durand, George Inness, Benjamin Champney, Albert Bierstadt, Virgil
Williams, and his brother, Edward Hill.
health reasons he sought a milder climate and, with wife and children,
made the overland trek to San Francisco in 1861. After establishing a
home and studio, he advertised as a portrait painter. The next year he
made his first trip to Yosemite accompanied by William Keith and Virgil
Williams. In 1866 Thomas Hill exhibited Yosemite scenes at the National
Academy and then sailed to Paris where he was a pupil of Paul Meyerheim
and exhibited at the Universal Exposition.
to the U.S., he stayed in Boston during 1868-70 and then returned to
San Francisco to help organize the San Francisco Art Association. His
marriage was not a happy one. While his wife lived in the family home
in Oakland, Hill built a studio in Yosemite in 1883, and for his
remaining years the park was his home except during winters when he
lived nearby in Raymond or at his studio in San Francisco.
Virgil Williams died in 1886, Hill was briefly the director of the
School of Design. During the 1870s and 1880s his works were in demand
and brought high prices. By the 1890s his epic landscapes were
considered old-fashioned and for half a century or more his work was in
eclipse. Today his work has regained its proper stature and he is
considered a giant in American art. Although he painted over 5,000
paintings of Yosemite, he had many strokes after 1896 which hampered his
painting. His death on June 30, 1908 in Raymond, CA is believed to
have been a suicide.
Source: Edan Hughes, "Artists in California 1786-1940"
Available Paintings by Thomas Hill
THOMAS HILL (1829 - 1908)
"El Capitan, Yosemite" Oil on canvas 16" x 24"
THOMAS HILL (1829 - 1908)
"Yosemite Valley" Oil on canvas 28" x 36"
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