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Henry Hill in Brighton

Henry and Charlotte Hill moved to Brighton in 1865. By the 1870’s, as Hill was nearing his sixties, Hill seems settled there. Although Hill remained active in his business until his death in 1882, this retirement from London gave Hill the opportunity to put some of his business skills to use in other endeavours.

For some time Hill was a Town Councillor, Hill represented Park Ward on Brighton Borough Council alongside Benjamin Webb. He was on the board of the Brighton School of Science and Art, and provided a £5,000 mortgage to enable them to build a bespoke building (now sadly demolished).

He became Quartermaster of the 1st Sussex Rifle Volunteers, which gave him his title of Captain. He donated to the prize funds for the Corps. He was a member of the athletics and boating clubs, and was a member and Chariman for the Brighton Art Gallery Fine Art Sub Committee for over eight year. In this capacity, he established annual sales exhibitions, water-colour exhibitions, a Brighton Art Union and an invaluable network of artist friends.

Henry and Charlotte lived at 53 Marine Parade until the death of Charlotte in 1891. ‘It was literally crammed with works of art. Behind the house he had a gallery consisting of six well-proportioned saloons, well lighted from the ceiling. These were filled with some of the best productions of the Modern and French schools. (1)

The archive represented on this website represents this collection. Over 400 paintings, across a range of styles. Over 100 artists are represented in the collection. It has lost much of its relevance other than for a few key pieces due to the collection being broken up and sold, unlike the Ionides collection at the V&A. I hope this website helps to demonstrate how impressive this collection was.

Brighton Art Gallery opened in 1872, the same year in which Deschamps became secretary to The Society of French Artists and the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian war (leading to an influx of ‘foreign’ painters). Brighton was, according to Henry Cole (director of the South Kensington Museum) a town with tourism as its industry. As such it could compete with the industrial cities of Liverpool and Glasgow, but on its own terms with a focus on the arts.

In a biography of her father Frank Holl, A. M. Reynolds provides a window into Hills life. She describes how in April 1874 the Holl family went to Brighton for a week or two:

‘Many years older than my father, Captain Hill still possessed a vigorous, youthful spirit, clad in a bluff and hearty exterior. Generosity and goodness itself, this stout little person surmounted by a bullet-shaped head with a complexion suggestive of much enjoyment of old port and a vast appreciation of the good things of life generally, he was a well-known figure in sales rooms and at picture-dealers. […] He was extremely fond of my father, and during the visit to Brighton my parents seem to have practically lived at No. 53 Marine Parade. Lunching, dining, walking, and driving, most of the day was spent in the company of Captain Hill and his kindly wife – a comfortable, cheery soul with just as much appreciation of luxurious living as her bluff and breezy Captain.(2)

  1. Anon. Obituary of Henry Hill The Argus 12th April 1882.
  2. A. M. Reynolds Biography of Frank Holl 1912 page 124