This website has been designed as a way to explore the art collection of Henry Hill (1812-1882). Born in Cullompton, Devon, Henry moved to London in the 1830’s as a journeyman tailor. Around 1847 he became established as a military tailor in Old Bond Street, London. Eventually his brothers joined the firm and it became Hill Bros. This placed Henry Hill in the heart of the art world in England at this time. Bond Street was the location of art dealers and galleries, and the centre of what Jeremy Maas describes as ‘Exhibition Mania’ in the mid nineteenth century.
Henry Hill evidently caught the collecting bug. When he and his wife retired to Brighton in the mid-1860s their art collection of living artists rapidly grew.
Although very little is known about this collector, his life or his collection, he is known as the first collector of the work of Degas in England. He owned seven paintings by Degas now belonging to some of the finest galleries in the world. Despite this, details about how and why this came about have always been a bit of a mystery. Hill has remained an ‘important’ Victorian collector, but with little known context.
This website provides a virtual archive of the Hill collection. The majority of this collection was sold at Christie’s in three sales, 1889, 1892 and 1893, after the death of his wife, Charlotte. The Christie’s sales records provide the basis for the data presented.
This archive is a work in progress, and is based on research that I have carried out on the biography and collection of Henry Hill. I hope that I will be given permission to share some known images on these pages, and that the resource will continue to grow as more information is shared through my Contacts Page. Any additional information received will be fully attributed, and the appropriate acknowledgement given on my Thanks Page. I hope that it will be used as an academic resource on which to build a better understanding of the role that Henry Hill played in the art market of Victorian England.