Thomas Hill (1829-1908)

I.W. Taber. William Ruth, Esq. Comp'ts. of Thomas Hill (1906). Courtesy of The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley

I.W. Taber. William Ruth, Esq. Comp’ts. of Thomas Hill (1906). Courtesy of The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley

Hill found the beauty he sought in the light that played on the stone walls and falling waters of the Yosemlte Valley. He became a painter of those translucent light effects, and he clothed in classic splendor the glory of daylight Their lives they gave to art, to that beauty they so longed to realize and to transmit to others. This they did, but in reality they did not found a school, and none of the three left any followers. What they did leave was an inspiration, handing down the light which so brightly burned in their own souls, for others to carry on. ” Gottardo Piazzoni, Argus, September 1926.

Read Thomas Hill‘s biography in California Art Project, volume 2 – CARA_V02_HILL

At a glance

Birth : September 11, 1829. in Birmingham, England
Death : June 30, 1908 in Raymond, California (United States)
Arrival in San Francisco Bay area : 1861
Married to : Charlotte Elizabeth Hawkes
Skills : Painter


Art education, teachers : Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia  Academy of Fine Arts with Peter Rothermel, Philadelphia Graphic Club, Barbizon School, Paul Meyerheim.
Partners : Prang
RelationsAlbert Bierstadt, Benjamin Champney, Edward Hill (Brother), George Inness, William Keith, John Muir, Jules Tavernier, Virgil Williams, Frederic Whymper, Peter Yelland
Patrons : San Francisco Art Union, Charles Crocker, Edwin Crocker
Institutions, clubs, venues : Boston Art Club, Bohemian Club,  San Francisco Art Association


1868 Tremont Gallery, Boston
1872 Gallery Snow and Roos, San Francisco
1873 San Francisco Art Association, San Francisco
1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exhibitions
1885 Wold Fair Exhibition New Orleans

Ressources in the Bancroft Library


[Material about the artist, Thomas Hill]. [microform] Catalogue Record
Thomas Hill letter : Raymond, Madera County, Calif., to Howell A. Powell : ALS, 1904, April 28. BANC MSS 98/9 c Catalogue Record

 Pictorial Archives

Portraits of artist Thomas Hill and his daughters [graphic] (1865).  BANC PIC 1991.074–CDV Catalogue Record


Arkelian, Marjorie Dakin. 1980. Thomas Hill: the grand view [catalogue compiled by Barbara Bowman ; photography by Joe Samberg] Oakland, Calif. : Oakland Museum Art Dept. Catalogue Record

Catalogue of the paintings and sketches of the late Thomas Hill [electronic resource], the great American artist. The entire collection now on exhibition and sale by Robert R. Hill, administrator. San Francisco [R.R.Hill, 1910]. Online

Chapin, Patrick. Jaramillo, George S. 2011. Historic structure report: Thomas Hill Studio, Yosemite National Park, Wawona, California. 2011. History Architecture and Landscapes Branch, Resources Management and Science Division, [Yosemite National Park]. [Washington, D.C.] : National Park Service, U.S. Dept. of the Interior. Catalogue Record

Driesbach, Janice Tolhurst. 1997. Direct from nature : the oil sketches of Thomas Hill / by Janice T. Driesbach ; with an essay by William H. Gerdts. Yosemite National Park, Calif. : Yosemite Association ; Sacramento, Calif. : in association with the Crocker Art Museum. Catalogue Record

Hill, Thomas. 1905?. History of the “Spike Picture” : and why it is still in my possession [microform]. San Francisco : R.R. Hill, Book and Job Printer. Catalogue Record

Irvine Museum. 2002. Masters of Light: Plein-Air Painting in California, 1890-1930. Irvine, Ca: The Irvine Museum. Catalogue Record

Transamerica Corporation. 1991. The Golden Age of Yosemite Painting, 1859-1930: A Centennial Tribute. Edited by Alfred C. Harrison. San Francisco, Calif: Transamerica Corp. Catalogue Record

Data visualization : mapping of Thomas Hill biography

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