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Thomas Hill (1929-1908)

 

Thomas Hill was born in Birmingham, England, in 1929, and moved to the United States with his family in 1944, settling in Taunton, Massachusetts.  Hillís first formal art instruction was at the Pennsylvania Art Academy, and with this learning Hill would spend the 1950ís painting in the White Mountains with a group of artists which included Asher Durand, Albert Bierstadt, and George Innes. 

 

Seeking a milder climate, Thomas Hill moved to San Francisco in 1861, and the following year made his first trip to Yosemite, accompanied by William Keith and Virgil Williams.  Hill exhibited his Yosemite scenes in New York in 1866, and shortly after left for further study in France.  Upon his return to the east coast, Hill again needed to escape the cold wet winter, and headed back to San Francisco in 1871 where he helped organize that cityís Art Association.  Hill was a tremendous commercial success in the early 1870ís as his paintings were commanding impressive sums.  An economic downturn in 1878 changed his fortunes, and Hill, though remaining prolific, would struggle with his finances for the rest of his days.  In an unhappy marriage, Hill was spending more extended periods in Yosemite, away from the family home his wife managed in Oakland.

 

Like Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Hill lived long enough to see American tastes evolve in to an appreciation of French Impressionism, and this left him with an ever decreasing audience for his more formal, tonal palette.  In 1896, Thomas Hill began suffering a series of debilitating strokes, and his death in 1908 is believed to have been a suicide.



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