James John Hill

(1811 - 27 January 1882)

Son of Daniel Hill of Broad Street, Birmingham, where he was born in 1811. He was educated at Hazlewood School, and received his artistic training in the academy conducted by John Vincent Barber, where Thomas Creswick [q. v.] was his fellow-student. He practised his art for some years in his native town, chiefly as a portrait-painter, and among his sitters were Dr. Warneford and Mrs. Glover, the founder of Spring Hill College. In 1839 he removed to London, and in 1842 was elected a member of the Society of British Artists. The first works which he exhibited there were ‘"he Rose of York" and "The Rose of Lancaster," with three portraits, and he continued a constant and popular contributor to its exhibitions for nearly forty years. Lady Burdett-Coutts was one of his most constant friends, and he painted for her many portraits and several pictures of horses and dogs. After some years' residence in London he mainly devoted himself to the fancy subjects by which he is best known. These were usually half-length single figures, or at most a couple of figures, studied from life, and with landscape backgrounds painted from nature. Many of the most effective were Irish studies, the earliest of which were painted in 1854, on his first visit to Ireland. Several were purchased by Mr. Ingram, and published as chromolithographs with the Illustrated London News. Later in life he again changed his line in art, and devoted himself chiefly to landscape-painting, but not with success equal to that which he had achieved with his rustic figures. He died of bronchitis at Sutton House, West Hill, Highgate, on 27 Jan. 1882, in the seventy-first year of his age.

[Birmingham Daily Post, 31 Jan. 1882; reprinted in Architect, 1882, i. 73; Exhibition Catalogues of the Society of British Artists, 1842–82. Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 26, Hill, James Johnl, by Robert Edmund Graves.]

James John Hill was a painter of landscapes, rustic genre and portraits but more widely known for his fantasy subjects of pretty smiling peasant or fishergirls, either singly or in groups with landscapes or seascape backgrounds.

"The Fisherman’s Daughters" is a beautiful study of two sister’s eagerly awaiting their father’s return from a fishing trip. The elder is already helping in the ‘family business’, fishing nets over her arm and fishing bag and tackle by her side, while the younger sister leans dreamingly on her shoulder, flowers adorning her hair, seemingly without the concern of her elder sister. The sea can be seen in the backgroud with a flock of seagulls flying over the water.

James John Hill was born in Birmingham, where he studied before coming to London in 1839. He exhibited at the British Institution, being elected a member in 1842 and also at the Royal Academy 1854-1868. He enjoyed considerable success during his lifetime and one of his patrons was Lady Burdett-Coutts, for whom he painted many portraits, animal and dog studies. He frequently visited Ireland, inspiring him to paint his coastal scenes with fisherfolk at work on the beaches – mending nets, fishing, collecting cockles and oysters.

Hill’s pictures were often reproduced lithographically for the Illustrated London News. He sometimes colaborated with the artist Henry Bright (1814-1873), painting the figures in his landscapes.

View painter's art: James John Hill (1811-1882)

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