Thomas Hill (Thomas Hill)

Thomas Hill

Artist. Born in England in September, 1829. In 1844 at the age of 15, his parents brought him to the United States, where they settled in Taunton, MA. Nearby, in Boston, the young immigrant earned a living as a carriage painter and shortly after, apprenticed at an interior-decorating firm. By 1851, he had married Charlotte Elizabeth Hawkins and had fathered their first of nine children. In their early years of marriage, the young couple encountered struggles with finances and a tragedy when twins died in infancy. At the age of 24, Thomas attended evening classes at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) and studied under American painter Peter Frederick Rothermel. During his years as a student, Thomas traveled to the White Mountains in New Hampshire as early as 1854 and sketched alongside members of the Hudson River School, such as Benjamin Champney. In 1856, Thomas and his family moved to San Francisco, California. Once in California, Thomas became known for his landscape paintings of the America West. The year of 1865 marked a monumental date in his career as an artist. Along with painter Virgil Williams and photographer Carleton Watkins. Thomas made his first of many trips to Yosemite Valley. By the end of that same year, he gained success and a steady patronage for his landscapes of Yosemite Valley. Thomas made yearly sketching trips to Yosemite, Mount Shasta, and, back east, to the White Mountains. He ran an art gallery and art supply store. He briefly acted as the interim director for the SFAA School of Design and went to Alaska on a commission for environmentalist John Muir. He lived on his stock market investments as well as his art proceeds.  The aging artist was becoming increasingly reserved, and his monumental history painting The Last Spike was considered to be out of fashion. Moreover, his marriage, which was struggling for many years, dissolved in the early 1880’s. In his last years, he maintained a studio at Yosemite’s Wawona Hotel. The familiar Yosemite landscape was a haven for the aging artist, and he often entertained tourists, including President Theodore Roosevelt. After suffering from a stroke, Thomas traveled up and down the California Coast, making stops in Coronado, San Diego and Santa Barbara in search of a more agreeable climate. He died in Raymond, California, in June, 1908. (bio by: Shock)  Family links:  Spouse:  Charlotte Elizabeth Hawks Hill (1834 – 1903)*  Children:  Edward Rufus Hill (1851 – 1908)*  Laura Bell Hill Herrick (1869 – 1909)* *Calculated relationship


  • September, 11, 1829
  • England


  • June, 06, 1908
  • USA


  • Mountain View Cemetery
  • California
  • USA

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