Thomas Hill was an American artist whose landscapes of the Sierra Nevada, the Rocky Mountains and Yosemite gained him the reputation as the “Artist of Yosemite”. He was born in Birmingham, England on September 11, 1829 before his family immigrated to American in 1844. In 1851, he married Charlotte Elizabeth Hawkes and settled in Taunton, Massachusetts. He worked with a carriage maker in Boston during this time, most likely painting the carriages. In 1853, he studied portraiture and still life painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. He took a trip in 1854 with other landscape artists to the White Mountains in New Hampshire which piqued his interest in landscape painting. It wasn’t until a trip to Paris in 1866 that he switched from still lifes to landscape artistry at the encouragement of his professors. His exquisitely detailed landscapes quickly gained him a reputation when he returned to the United States in 1867 where he became the leading member of the Hudson River School.
Through the years, he developed into an avid landscape artist with his trips to the Sierra Nevada, the Rocky Mountains and the White Mountains. In 1870, he settled in California, spending his winters in San Francisco and his summer in Yosemite Valley. He helped to develop the California School of Design and, in 1886, he briefly held the position as a director of the California School of Fine Arts until he received a commission to paint a glacier in Glacier Bay, Alaska in 1887. In 1896, Thomas Hill had the first of many strokes that plagued the end of his life and on July 1, 1908 he passed away, by a death that was rumored to be suicide.