September 11 – Happy Birthday, Thomas Hill

Posted on September 11, 2018

Do you get a physical thrill when you see a beautiful mountain? Do you get a mental rush when you see a gorgeous coastline? Do you feel an emotional high when you see an unbelievable rockscape?

Nature is so amazing, so beautiful, so complicated, so seemingly miraculous and unexpected and huge - we puny humans often feel physical, mental, emotional, even spiritual sensations when we are out there in it. For some people, nature makes them want to move - I know a young man who would scramble up every rock or cliff he could, and the occasional tree as well. Some sing or hum while enjoying nature, and many people have composed songs or music inspired by nature's beauties. Others love to sit in utter quiet and soak in the wonder.

Today's famous birthday, Thomas Hill, loved to paint nature. Born on this date in 1829, in England, he came to the U.S. with his family when he was 15 years old and settled in New England. The White Mountains in New Hampshire were big-time inspirations for him.

As a painter, Hill traveled in the Eastern U.S., in Europe, in Alaska, and in California. 

He was especially drawn to California, and he lived there during several periods of his life. He was especially inspired to paint Mount Shasta and the many and varied landscapes of Yosemite Valley.

Hill even had a studio in the famous Wawana Hotel, deep inside Yosemite.

Hill was lucky enough to meet with success during his lifetime, and his works are still displayed and enjoyed in many places. One of his Yosemite paintings was chosen for Barack Obama's inaugural luncheon, and the painting for which Hill is most famous, The Last Spike, hangs in the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento. 

This huge 8-by-12-foot painting depicts the ceremonial driving of the last "golden spike" that completed the First Transcontinental Railroad. If you can believe it, Hill painted detailed and recognizable portraits of 71 of the people who attended that ceremony.

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