Thomas Hill, “Artist at His Easel in the Woods (detail),” n.d., oil on paper mounted on panel, 21 x 13-3/4 inches

Sometimes artists redefine themselves and reach a more enthusiastic group of collectors simply by painting a new range of landscape subjects. That’s what happened to Thomas Hill when he stopped trying to paint like other East Coast artists associated with the Hudson River School, moved his family to California, and created dramatic representations of the West Coast landscape.

Born in England and trained at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Hill struggled to support his large family by painting Hudson River-style landscapes as well as decorations on furniture and carriages. In 1865, he made a trip to Yosemite Valley in California and discovered what became his signature landscape subject.

Thomas Hill, “Artist at His Easel in the Woods,” n.d., oil on paper mounted on panel, 21 x 13-3/4 inches

For the remainder of his career, Hill made yearly painting trips to Yosemite and Mount Shasta in California and back to the White Mountains of New Hampshire. In the company of other plein air painters, he created oil paintings to use as the basis of studio paintings. It is likely that this painting of a fellow plein air painter was created during one of his painting trips through California.

This article was featured in the January 2018 issue of PleinAir Magazine. To learn more and subscribe, visit here. This article was also featured in PleinAir Today, a weekly e-newsletter from PleinAir magazine. To start receiving PleinAir Today for free, click here.



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