Robert Hills O. W. S.

#RobertHills (1769 – 1844) is not a name which most people will recognise for being influential in the British painting scene.  Hills was an English painter and etcher, working mostly as a watercolourist and etcher with the odd venture into oil painting.  Hills was born in Islington and his early studies were under #JohnAlexanderGresse (Royal drawing master) later enrolling in the Royal Academy Schools in London.Portrait of a Lady - watercolour by Robert Hills

Much of his body of work feature village and rural scenes but his fame comes from his portrayal of farm animals.  His favourite subjects were cattle, sheep, donkeys, pigs and above all deer.  He worked plein-air in making his sketches but also produced meticulous anatomical studies of these animals bones and joints.

Hills also produced over a 1000 etchings.  In 1815, he published Etchings of Quadrupeds; the British Museum holds the artist’s collection of his own etchings. 

Hills was a founding member of the Society of Painters in Watercolours. The watercolours of deer and cattle, farmyard and parkland, are characterised by the precision with which the animals were observed and draw.  Hills used the practice of washing his line drawings with greys, blues and browns to create interest and atmosphere.  Hills moved in an artistic circle that believed in the importance of drawing from life.  I wonder if he might even have met Robert Bloomfield (rural bard and focus of a previous chapter).

Although Hills was known for his depiction of animals he produced some studies of farmers, their wives and children.  The piece, I have shown is signed ‘R. Hills delt’ and is certainly not what Robert Hills is known for.  The colouring and execution is very fine – watercolour over graphite with body colour.  Lushous earthy colours drape this beautiful lady in calm and serenity.  A lovely depiction by a fine artist.

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