Artwork of the Week
Born in England in 1829, Thomas Hill emigrated to the United States at the age of 15 and later studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Influenced by the Hudson River School of painting, Hill created work driven by his experiences with nature. In 1856, Hill moved to San Francisco, and in 1865, along with photographer Carleton Watkins, he made his first sketching trip into Yosemite—a subject he painted throughout his career.
In Hunter and Setters in the Foothills with the Great Basin Beyond, however, Hill conveys the spectacular western landscape of the area east of the Sierra Nevada. The small foreground figures of a hunter with his hunting dogs add perspective to the scene in comparison to the expansive view he confronts, suggesting human insignificance in the presence of the grandeur and awe of nature. In 19th-century American painting, the vivid colors of autumn often suggested God's blessing and benevolence. Hill’s use of color intensifies the spectacular scene.
Thomas Hill, American, born England, 1829-1909, Hunter and Setters in the Foothills with the Great Basin Beyond, 1871, oil on canvas, 27 x 36 inches, Museum purchase with the William Holden Acquisition Fund, 1983. 29-1983.