Robert   Hills   RA. RWA.

26 June 1769 - 14 May 1844

Water-colour painter, was born at Islington. He received some instruction in drawing from John Alexander Gresse [q. v.], and commenced to exhibit at the Royal Academy in 1791, sending a ‘Wood scene with Gipseys,’ which was followed by a landscape in 1792. In 1804, he helped to establish the (now Royal) Society of Painters in Water-colours, of which he was for many years the secretary. To the exhibitions of the society he was a constant contributor till 1818, when he withdrew from it for five years. During that period he exhibited six or seven drawings yearly at the Royal Academy. He resumed his membership of the Society of Water-colours in 1823, and was a regular contributor till his death, which took place at 17 Golden Square, and was buried at Kensal Green.

It is as a draughtsman of animals, especially deer, pigs, and cattle, that Hills is most distinguished. He was never tired of sketching them from nature and making etchings of them. Of the latter there is a collection of 1,240 in the British Museum, with all the plates in the finest states. Besides etchings of animals he published (1816) Sketches in Flanders and Holland, with thirty-six aquatints etched by himself. His water-colour drawings are marked by their careful finish, their rich colour, and the pretty bits of park and lane in which he set his groups of animals. Their chief fault is over-elaboration. He frequently introduced animals into the drawings of other artists, especially those of George Barret, Jnr., and G. F. Robson, and he attempted sculpture. A bronze stag cast from a terra-cotta model by him is described as ‘a masterpiece of art’ in the Annals of the Fine Arts, 1817. There are several drawings by him at the South Kensington Museum.

Redgrave's Dictionary; Bryan's Dictionary, (Graves); Annals of the Fine Arts, 1817; Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 26, by William Cosmo Monkhouse.

Robert Hills O.W.S. Painter and etcher of animals, Born in Islington, he seems to have been self taught. He was the secretary and later Treasurer of the Old Watercolour Society. All his plates were etched around the turn of the 19th century and is recorded as producing one lithograph at this time.

Hills studied at the Royal Academy Schools from 1788, having first received lessons in drawing from J.A. Gresse (1741-1794), and he began exhibiting at the Academy in 1791. He became best known for his watercolours and drawings of animals, and he was also a prolific etcher of such subjects, as the large number of prints which he made between 1798 and 1815, demonstrate. He was a founder member in 1804, of the important exhibiting society known as The Old Society of Painters in Watercolour or Old Water-Colour Society (OWS), and became its first secretary. The O.W.S became the Royal Watercolour Society in 1804.

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