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Artist Biography

 John William Hill was a landscape and topographical painter. He was born in London, the son of the aquatint engraver John R. Hill. The Hill family immigrated to America in 1819, settling initially in Philadelphia, then in New York City in 1822. It was there that young Hill started his career as an apprentice under his father.

During the early part of his career, John W. Hill was a topographical artist, employed by the New York State Geological Survey. He was later employed by Smith Brothers of New York City, for whom he painted watercolor views of many American cities to be published as lithographs. In 1855, Hill came under the influence of John Ruskin's Modern Painters, and began to work in the new Pre-Raphaelite style, of which he would be considered the leading spirit in America. He executed detailed pictures directly from nature, making sketches of birds’ nests and animals, as well as closely observed paintings of wildflowers, gardens, and landscapes executed in a stipple technique. Hill died at his home near West Nyack, New York in 1879, and in 1888 was posthumously honored in a work titled, An Artists Memorial, written and illustrated by his son, John Henry Hill.

John William Hill exhibited extensively at the National Academy of Design between 1829 and 1879, and at the Brooklyn Art Association between 1862 and 1884. His work can be found in prestigious collections and institutions including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, and the Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, Illinois.