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Artist Biography

 John Henry Hill, son of the artist John William Hill, was born in West Nyack, New York on April 28, 1839. He studied painting with his father, who by 1855 had become a devotee of the Ruskinian aesthetic, and first exhibited at the National Academy of Design in 1856. Elected an Associate Academician two years later, he contributed watercolors, aquatints, and etchings there on and off through 1891, while also exhibiting fairly regularly at the Brooklyn Art Association from 1865 to 1885. Both he and his father were founding members of the Association for the Advancement of Truth in Art, and their work was praised in The New Path.

During 1864-65 Hill spent about eight months in England studying the work of Turner. Upon his return, he went to Ashfield, Massachusetts, to join the Ruskinian band congregated there, and soon after executed twenty-four etchings meant to exemplify his theories about the proper way to draw from nature, publishing them in 1867 as Sketches from Nature. The following year, and again in 1870, he travelled to the Far West as a staff artist for a government surveying expedition headed by his friend and fellow Association member, geologist Clarence King. In 1878 and 1879 he visited England and the Continent, at one point following an itinerary proposed by John Ruskin in a letter of March 26, 1879.

The death of his father in September 1879 brought Hill back to West Nyack, where he continued to paint watercolors in a studio built by his father. In addition to publishing An Artist’s Memorial honoring his father in 1888, he promoted his father’s works by reproducing some as etchings and donating others to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ruskin, who wrote to him in 1881, said that he had a “very great art gift.” Hill died on December 18, 1922.