Big trees, 1903




Details: Thomas Hill (1829-1908) Big trees, 1903 Signed and dated lower right: “T. Hill/1903″ Oil on canvas Canvas size: 46 ¼” x 30″ Framed size: 55″ x 38 ¾” Provenance: Mrs. Joseph O. Tobin to Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Mrs. Joseph O. Tobin was the granddaughter of Michael Henry de Young, founder of the San Francisco Chronicle and benefactor of the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum. Thomas Hill was born in Birmingham, England on September 11, 1829. After immigrating to the United States in 1844, Hill settled with his family in Taunton, Massachusetts. He studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts under the tutelage of Peter F. Rothermel. Hill painted in Massachusetts throughout the 1850’s, often in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with a group of artists that included Asher B. Durand, George Inness, Benjamin Champney, Albert Bierstadt, Virgil Williams and his brother Edward Hill. For health reasons he was forced to seek a milder climate and, with wife and children, made the overland trek to California in 1861. After settling in San Francisco, Hill advertised himself as a portrait painter. In 1862 Hill made his first trip to Yosemite accompanied by the artists William Keith and Virgil Williams. In 1866 Hill exhibited his Yosemite scenes at the National Academy, and later that year, traveled to Paris where he was a pupil of Paul Meyerheim and exhibited at the Universal Expo. Returning to the United States, Hill stayed in Boston from 1868 to 1970, but returned to San Francisco in 1871. He hit his artistic stride in California during the 1870s, beginning with his first grandiose painting, The Yosemite Valley, which was published as a chromolithograph by Prang. With Frederic Whymper, Hill was a founding member of the San Francisco Art Association, and in 1873, he became a member of the Bohemian Club, a men’s organization dedicated to cultural enhancement. Hill built a studio in Yosemite in 1883, which would become his main residence for rest of his life (his wi