Currier Gallery of Art

Manchester, NH

(603) 669-6144



Direct from Nature: The Oil Sketches of Thomas Hill

September 26 - December 1, 1997


On a clear day, you can see all the way to Juneau, Alaska from The Currier Gallery of Art in Manchester, New Hampshire. An exhibition of oil sketches by the nineteenth-century landscape painter Thomas Hill opens at the Currier on Friday, September 26 and runs through December 1, 1997. More than 70 works are featured in the exhibition Direct from Nature: The Oil Sketches of Thomas Hill which includes scenic views of New Hampshire's White Mountains as well as California and Alaska.


Thomas Hill

Mount Lafayette, Franconia Notch, New Hampshire

oil on paper mounted on board

Private collection


Oil sketches were the nineteenth-century artist's snap shot. Painted out-of-doors, usually in the summer, and directly from their natural settings, oil sketches were often used as the inspiration for finished paintings created in the artist's studio at a later date. Hill was among the first artists to regard the oil sketch as a finished work of art. He signed many of the 250 surviving oil sketches and often exhibited them in his own lifetime. As a landscape painter, Hill was highly regarded in the 19th century and was favorably compared to his contemporaries including Albert Bierstadt. Vibrant and spontaneous, the oil sketches of Thomas Hill are a record of the artist's joy in the natural environment, capturing the changing conditions of weather and natural light.


Thomas Hill

Cathedral Ledge, North Conway, New Hampshire

oil on academy board

New York Historical Society, Concord


Hill was born in Birmingham, England in 1829 and moved to Boston when he was just fifteen. A member of the Boston Art Club, he soon began traveling throughout New England and to the west coast. Like many artists ofhis generation, he was attracted to the country's dramatic and majestic landscapes. Hill's frequent trips brought him to the White Mountains of New Hampshire as early as 1854. Later trips produced scenes at Franconia and Crawford Notches and the North Conway area. 1886 found Hill and fellow landscape painter Benjamin Champney working together in the White Mountains (an exhibition of works by Champney is currently on view at the Museum of New Hampshire History in Concord through January 4, 1998). His journeys to the western frontier began in 1861 inspiring paintings that included views of Yellowstone National Park, Mt. Shasta, Mt. Hood, and Yosemite Valley. In 1887, Hill began the first of several trips to Alaska.


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For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 111/16/11

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