Thomas Hill (painter)

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Thomas Hill
Thomas Hill (artist).jpg
Thomas Hill
Born(1829-09-11)September 11, 1829
DiedJune 30, 1908(1908-06-30) (aged 78)
Nationality American
Education Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
Known for Painting, Landscape art
Movement Romanticism

Thomas Hill (September 11, 1829 June 30, 1908) was an English-born American artist of the 19th century. He produced many fine paintings of the California landscape, in particular of the Yosemite Valley, as well as the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

England Country in north-west Europe, part of the United Kingdom

England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north. The Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of more than 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Fine art Art developed primarily for aesthetics

In European academic traditions, fine art is art developed primarily for aesthetics or beauty, distinguishing it from decorative art or applied art, which also has to serve some practical function, such as pottery or most metalwork. In the aesthetic theories developed in the Italian Renaissance, the highest art was that which allowed the full expression and display of the artist's imagination, unrestricted by any of the practical considerations involved in, say, making and decorating a teapot. It was also considered important that making the artwork did not involve dividing the work between different individuals with specialized skills, as might be necessary with a piece of furniture, for example. Even within the fine arts, there was a hierarchy of genres based on the amount of creative imagination required, with history painting placed higher than still life.

Contents

Biography

Thomas Hill - Indian by a lake in a majestic California landscape Thomas Hill - Indian by a lake in a majestic California landscape.jpg
Thomas Hill - Indian by a lake in a majestic California landscape

Thomas Hill was born in Birmingham, [1] England on September 11, 1829. His younger brother, Edward Hill, also became a successful landscape painter. At the age of 15, he emigrated to the United States with his family; they settled in Taunton, Massachusetts. In 1851, he married Charlotte Elizabeth Hawkes; they had nine children.

Birmingham Major city in the English Midlands, 2nd highest population of UK cities

Birmingham is a major city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands, England. It is the second-most populous city in the United Kingdom, after London, and the most populous city in the English Midlands. It is also the most populous metropolitan district in the United Kingdom, with an estimated 1,137,123 inhabitants, and is considered the social, cultural, financial, and commercial centre of the Midlands. It is the main local government of the West Midlands conurbation, which is the third most populated urban area in the United Kingdom, with a population of 2,897,303 in 2017. The wider Birmingham metropolitan area is the second largest in the United Kingdom with a population of over 4.3 million. It is frequently referred to as both England and the United Kingdom's "second city".

Edward Hill (painter) American painter and writer

Edward Hill was a prolific artist as well as a published poet, songwriter, and newspaper correspondent. His paintings include White Mountain landscapes, southern genre scenes, still lifes, portraits, American Indians, European attractions, and the scenery of the American West.

Taunton, Massachusetts City in Massachusetts, United States

Taunton is a city in Bristol County, Massachusetts, United States. It is the seat of Bristol County. Taunton is situated on the Taunton River which winds its way through the city on its way to Mount Hope Bay, 10 miles (16 km) to the south. At the 2010 census, the city had a population of 55,874. Thomas Hoye Jr. is the current mayor of Taunton, and has held the position since 2012.

At the age of 24, Hill attended evening classes at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) and studied under American painter Peter Frederick Rothermel (1812–1895). During his years as a student, Hill traveled to the White Mountains in New Hampshire as early as 1854 and sketched alongside members of the Hudson River School, such as Benjamin Champney. In 1856, Hill and his family moved to San Francisco, California.

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts museum and art school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is a museum and art school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was founded in 1805 and is the first and oldest art museum and art school in the United States. The academy's museum is internationally known for its collections of 19th- and 20th-century American paintings, sculptures, and works on paper. Its archives house important materials for the study of American art history, museums, and art training.

New Hampshire State of the United States of America

New Hampshire is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, Vermont to the west, Maine and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Canadian province of Quebec to the north. New Hampshire is the 5th smallest by area and the 10th least populous of the 50 states. Concord is the state capital, while Manchester is the largest city in the state. It has no general sales tax, nor is personal income taxed at either the state or local level. The New Hampshire primary is the first primary in the U.S. presidential election cycle. Its license plates carry the state motto, "Live Free or Die". The state's nickname, "The Granite State", refers to its extensive granite formations and quarries.

Hudson River School American art movement

The Hudson River School was a mid-19th century American art movement embodied by a group of landscape painters whose aesthetic vision was influenced by Romanticism. The paintings typically depict the Hudson River Valley and the surrounding area, including the Catskill, Adirondack, and White Mountains. Works by the second generation of artists associated with the school expanded to include other locales in New England, the Maritimes, the American West, and South America.

With painter Virgil Williams and photographer Carleton Watkins, Hill made his first trip to the Yosemite Valley in 1865. The next year, Hill traveled to the East Coast and Europe. He established his family on the East Coast but continued to take sketching trips to the West Coast and to attend meetings of the San Francisco Art Association. He moved his family back to San Francisco in 1873.

Carleton Watkins American photographer

Carleton E. Watkins (1829–1916) was an American photographer of the 19th century. Born in New York, he moved to California and quickly became interested in photography. He focused mainly on landscape photography, and Yosemite Valley was a favorite subject of his. His photographs of the valley significantly influenced the United States Congress’ decision to preserve it as a National Park.

Yosemite Valley glacial valley in California, United States of America

Yosemite Valley is a glacial valley in Yosemite National Park in the western Sierra Nevada mountains of Central California. The valley is about 7.5 miles (12 km) long and approximately 3000–3500 feet deep, surrounded by high granite summits such as Half Dome and El Capitan, and densely forested with pines. The valley is drained by the Merced River, and a multitude of streams and waterfalls flow into it, including Tenaya, Illilouette, Yosemite and Bridalveil Creeks. Yosemite Falls is the highest waterfall in North America, and is a big attraction especially in the spring when the water flow is at its peak. The valley is renowned for its natural environment, and is regarded as the centerpiece of Yosemite National Park, attracting visitors from around the world.

East Coast of the United States Coastline in the United States

The East Coast of the United States, also known as the Eastern Seaboard, the Atlantic Coast, and the Atlantic Seaboard, is the coastline along which the Eastern United States meets the North Atlantic Ocean. The coastal states that have shoreline on the Atlantic Ocean are, from north to south, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.

Mount Lafayette in Winter (1870) Thomas Hill 001.jpg
Mount Lafayette in Winter (1870)

Hill made yearly sketching trips to Yosemite, Mount Shasta, and, back east, to the White Mountains. Hill ran an art gallery and art supply store. He briefly acted as the interim director for the SFAA School of Design and went to Alaska on a commission for environmentalist John Muir. He lived on his stock market investments as well as his art proceeds. His marriage ended in the 1880s.

Mount Shasta Stratovolcano in California, United States of America

Mount Shasta is a potentially active volcano at the southern end of the Cascade Range in Siskiyou County, California. At an elevation of 14,179 feet (4321.8 m), it is the second-highest peak in the Cascades and the fifth-highest in the state. Mount Shasta has an estimated volume of 85 cubic miles (350 km3), which makes it the most voluminous stratovolcano in the Cascade Volcanic Arc. The mountain and surrounding area are part of the Shasta–Trinity National Forest.

Alaska State of the United States of America

Alaska is a U.S. state in the northwest extremity of the United States West Coast, just across the Bering Strait from Asia. The Canadian province of British Columbia and territory of Yukon border the state to the east and southeast. Its most extreme western part is Attu Island, and it has a maritime border with Russia to the west across the Bering Strait. To the north are the Chukchi and Beaufort seas—southern parts of the Arctic Ocean. The Pacific Ocean lies to the south and southwest. It is the largest U.S. state by area and the seventh largest subnational division in the world. In addition, it is the 3rd least populous and the most sparsely populated of the 50 United States; nevertheless, it is by far the most populous territory located mostly north of the 60th parallel in North America: its population—estimated at 738,432 by the United States Census Bureau in 2015— is more than quadruple the combined populations of Northern Canada and Greenland. Approximately half of Alaska's residents live within the Anchorage metropolitan area. Alaska's economy is dominated by the fishing, natural gas, and oil industries, resources which it has in abundance. United States armed forces bases and tourism are also a significant part of the economy.

John Muir Scottish-born American naturalist and author

John Muir also known as "John of the Mountains" and "Father of the National Parks", was an influential Scottish-American naturalist, author, environmental philosopher, glaciologist, and early advocate for the preservation of wilderness in the United States of America.

Toward the end of his life, he maintained a studio at Yosemite’s Wawona Hotel. After suffering a stroke, Hill left Yosemite and traveled up and down the California coast, including stops in Coronado, San Diego and Santa Barbara. He died in Raymond, California, on June 30, 1908, and is buried at Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, California.

Wawona Hotel

The Wawona Hotel is a historic hotel located within southern Yosemite National Park, in California. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987, and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Stroke Medical condition where poor blood flow to the brain causes cell death

A stroke is a medical condition in which poor blood flow to the brain results in cell death. There are two main types of stroke: ischemic, due to lack of blood flow, and hemorrhagic, due to bleeding. Both result in parts of the brain not functioning properly. Signs and symptoms of a stroke may include an inability to move or feel on one side of the body, problems understanding or speaking, dizziness, or loss of vision to one side. Signs and symptoms often appear soon after the stroke has occurred. If symptoms last less than one or two hours it is known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or mini-stroke. A hemorrhagic stroke may also be associated with a severe headache. The symptoms of a stroke can be permanent. Long-term complications may include pneumonia or loss of bladder control.

Coronado, California City in California

Coronado is a resort city located in San Diego County, California, across the San Diego Bay from downtown San Diego. It was founded in the 1880s and incorporated in 1890. Its population was 24,697 at the 2010 census, up from 24,100 at the 2000 census.

Work

Great Canyon of the Sierra, Yosemite (1872) Thomas Hill - Great Canyon of the Sierra, Yosemite.jpg
Great Canyon of the Sierra, Yosemite (1872)
The Last Spike (1881) The Last Spike 1869.jpg
The Last Spike (1881)

Hill’s work was often driven by a vision resulting from his experiences with nature. For Thomas Hill, Yosemite Valley and the White Mountains of New Hampshire were his sources of inspiration to begin painting and captured his direct response to nature. [2]

Hill was loosely associated with the Hudson River School of painters. The Hudson River School celebrated nature with a sense of awe for its natural resources, which brought them a feeling of enthusiasm when thinking of the potential it held. Mainly the earlier members of the Hudson River School, around the 1850-60’s, displayed man as in unison with nature in their landscape paintings by often painting men on a very small scale compared to the vast landscape. Thomas Hill often brought this technique into his own paintings in for example in his painting, Yosemite Valley 1889.

He made early trips to the White Mountains with his friend Benjamin Champney and painted White Mountain subjects throughout his career. An example of his White Mountain subjects is Mount Lafayette in Winter. Hill acquired the technique of painting en plein air . These paintings in the field later served as the basis for larger finished works.

In plein air means to “paint outdoors and directly from the landscape”, [3] which Hill incorporated into many of his paintings. Hill’s landscape paintings demonstrate how he combined his powers of observation with powerful motifs in each painting.

Hill’s move to California in 1861 brought him new material for his paintings. He chose monumental vistas, like Yosemite. During his lifetime, Hill’s paintings were popular in California, costing as much as $10,000. Hill's best works are considered to be these monumental subjects, including Great Canyon of the Sierra, Yosemite, Vernal Falls and Yosemite Valley.

His 1865 View of the Yosemite Valley was chosen to be the backdrop of the head table at Barack Obama's inaugural luncheon, to commemorate Lincoln's 1864 signing of the Yosemite Grant. A painting has been chosen for every inaugural luncheon since 1985. [4]

Hill's most famous and enduring work is of the driving of the "Last Spike" at Promontory Summit, UT, on May 10, 1869, to join the rails of the CPRR and UPRR. The huge 8 x 12 foot painting, which features detailed portraits of 71 individuals associated with the First Transcontinental Railroad, hangs at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento, California. [5]

Works

See also

Thomas Hill Grave Marker.jpg

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References

  1. Yosemite National Park. Thomas Hill.
  2. Driesbach, Janice T. Direct from Nature: the Oil Sketches of Thomas Hill. Sacramento, CA: Crocker Art Museum, 1997.
  3. Driesbach, Janice T. Direct from Nature: the Oil Sketches of Thomas Hill. Sacramento, CA: Crocker Art Museum, 1997.
  4. "2009 Painting: 'View of the Yosemite Valley'". Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.
  5. "THE LAST SPIKE" A Painting by Thomas Hill Illustrating the Last Scene in the Building of the Overland Railroad with a History of the Enterprise. Pamphlet by Thomas Hill privately published in San Francisco (January, 1881)