Transcribed report of the Funeral of the late Mr. Henry Hill The Western Times (Exeter, England) Thursday April 13 1882; pg. 3; Issue 9973
The funeral of the late Mr. Henry Hill, of Brighton took place on Saturday week in the Brighton Extra Mural Cemetery. At the gates the funeral cortège was met by a large number of friends and acquaintances of the deceased, including members of the Brighton Town Council, the 1st Sussex Volunteers, the Fine Art Committee, and the Museum and Library Committees, with all of which bodies Captain Hill has some connection. The mourners included Mr. W. S. Mortimer, and Mr. E. B. Stephens, A. R. A. Touching the career of the deceased “An Old Friend” writes us:-
Mr. Hill was born at Cullompton about 70 years ago. The father was a man of unbending integrity, and both parents were highly esteemed for their probity and kindness of heart. The family of three sons and one daughter proved to be by their conduct worthy of their excellent parents, and well endowed intellectually.
Good amateur musicians they all were, and the remembrance of their Sunday evenings’ songs of praise was dear to them forever afterwards, their musical taste and culture giving them a common delight through life.
It is now just 48 years ago Mr. Hill left Exeter, where he had been for a few years, and it was from Topsham he commenced his voyage to the great Metropolis. Topsham in these days had a steam vessel which carried passengers to London, and to this vessels side I and his younger brother trudged with the voyager and saw him off, each of us – for we were only big boys- feeling that a good fellow, and intelligent friend and companion was leaving us; and in our boyish views of life he would never be to me as he had been. He landed in London after a tedious voyage with even less than the proverbial half-crown in his pocket. The first few years of his London life were full of anxieties, often of enforced idleness, for work was not always to be had; consequently food was sometimes scanty, but the anxieties never daunted him, nor privation led him to do anything which his father, though long dead, would had disapproved.
The excellent workman, however, advanced to a somewhat better position, and the journeyman who was always at his shop door waiting to be let in at six in the morning was offered a responsible position at a shop in conduit street, which, when prosperous times arrived and at the death of the proprietor, the manager and trusted friend, he purchased and kept the business going for some years. About the years ’40 or ’42 he married from Sidmouth the daughter of one of his early masters. She was one of the true Devon type, gifted with excellent common sense, thrifty and indefatigable in her duties, a thoroughly worthy helpmate for her husband. About the year ’47 he started the business in Bond Street, and thus began the foundation of his fortune, which became a great success, perhaps the largest business of its type ever known, and of which he was the energetic director from the first day of commencement until the last day of his life. The business was started with a partner of about his own age, who in two years became mentally incapable, and in a short time died. The widow and children were generously cared for beyond any legal claims they may have had on the estate. The business was now all his own, but his brothers soon shared it with him; they were his partners, and, of course, lent hearty aid in the growing establishment. It is to the starting and progress of this great business the interest in his life arises, and I shall endeavor to show how this success was attained. His money means were nil, but by aid of three or four friends, who thoroughly appreciated his character, the funds were provided, and the little bit of paper, discounted, I believe, by Saunders and Co., which showed how the means were raised, was exhibited in due form at anniversaries, and cherished as one of his choice artistic treasures. The principles which guided him in his business were industry, thrift and punctuality, and these, supplemented with enormous energy, soon produced a great success, which increased year by year. In its young days early to rise and late to bed, and every hour occupied, was his custom. He would rise to catch the then first train to Oxford or Cambridge, for at both of these universities he had obtained favourable introduction, and the result of his journey in the morning was in the afternoon, on his return, set out and started at once. These University journeys led to big orders coming in, not only from residents in the various colleges, but from the heads of their families, for as he often said, “I first get the youngsters well dressed at moderate charges, then the governors were soon induced to follow suit.” Orders came in to the firm from Frenchmen and Russians resident in London, and it became such a valuable connection that a branch was established at Paris, and the swells of the Empire eschewed the vulgar idea that Paris alone could “make up” a gentleman by freely admitting that for style and charges Bond Street would beat the Boulevards; and at St. Petersburg a regular traveller and agent sent home orders from the capital of the Czar. American gentleman and those who desired to be well dressed added greatly to the business of the firm. In early days thrift helped to bring success, for whilst the business brought returns far beyond expectation, the home and personal expenditure was not enlarged, but continued on the same frugal scale until the capital accumulated was within a measurable distance of being enough for paying cash for purchases, instead of taking the usual trade credits.
Punctuality was his forte. It was a command, and one to be implicitly obeyed, that every order was to be completed by the time promised; that the evening or the morning of the day named was to be understood to mean not late than 6 p.m. and 8 a.m. He once told me of a workman once saying to him he could not finish a garment that night. “Well, then,” was the reply, “if you can’t, I can; you can go off if you please, and I shall please take my coat off and finish it for you.” Thus he had a large command over the inertia of some of his workmen. He would do anything with his own hand, and would do it rather than that his rule of punctuality should be broken. During the strikes, some years ago, his energy and judicious advice to both employers and the employed helped to lessen greatly the difficulties and asperities of the trade. Many of his old hands were loyal to him and he generously rewarded their loyalty, and by not refusing all demands, but by moderating them, and by inducing masters to look at the matter fairly and grant equitable terms, he contributed largely to a settlement. This is the business character of the man, and it may be asked, how did he enjoy the use of his wealth? To which one can only give a limited answer, but it may be seen in some degree by the very valuable collection of works of art accumulated at his galleries at Brighton, where may be seen, by any who apply, works by several members of the Royal Academy and foreign artists of high renown; but he did not forget the young and rising man, for his galleries contain works of the younger artists, many of whom have subsequently become men of mark. It is characteristic of this collection of art that by early education, and by general taste, art knew him not until wealth enabled him to purchase; but he had the sagacity to get the aid of experienced artists to guide him, for as he naively remarked, “It is little use buying merely what I like, but I want to have what I ought to like, and which, when I know something of art, I shall find will be worth my liking.” The formation of those galleries, for one by one he built places to receive his treasures, was his chief delight; helping to develop a taste and knowledge of art at Brighton was his recreation during his semi-retirement from business, and to such work he gave his time unsparingly, and his money liberally. The School of Art and the annual exhibition of the Pavilion were mainly his creation. The latter days his mind was, unhappily, clouded. He passed away at the ripe age of three score years and ten, in the galleries, surrounded by his beautiful pictures.
Transcribed extract from the Art Journal 1867
The third annual exhibition of modern pictures in the Royal Pavilion Gallery in Brighton, which was opened to the public in September, is fully equal to its predecessors in interest. Through the kindness of Captain Henry Hill, whose fine collection of pictures is so well known, the exhibition committee obtained the loan of some of his finest possessions, including P. R. Morris’s ‘Sailors Wedding,’ and ‘Sigh no more, ladies;’ Frank Holl’s ‘Her Firstborn,’ ‘The Seamstresses,’ and ‘The Lord gave, and the Lord taketh away’ (the last a replica of the Academy picture bought by her Majesty the Queen); Degas’ ‘Preliminary Steps’ (one of his best ballet scenes), and ‘Sketch at a French Café;’ G. Vollon’s ‘Winter at Montmartre;’ R. Beavis’s ‘Ploughing in the Land of the Pharaohs;’ P. F. Poole’s ‘Going out for the Night’ (a lovely moonlight subject, specially painted for Captain Hill), and ‘Meeting of Oberon and Titania’ (sketch for the well known picture); Tom Lloyd’s ‘Sleeping’ and ‘A Country Lane.’ […] Among the more notable landscapes are Harry Goodwin’s ‘Summer at Winchelsea,’ A. F. Grace’s ‘Dewy Morn,’ J. E. Grace’s ‘On a Welsh River,’ Mrs H. Goodwin’s ‘Castle Road, Hastings.’ J. Hill’s ‘Old Mill’ and ‘Thames at Medmenham’ (this artist is a nephew of Captain Hill) and R. H. Nibb’s ‘Old […] Bridge on the Ouse’ – these being the work of Sussex artists. […].
Hills Will and Bequests Source: The Illustrated London News, July 1, 1882, p.28
The will of Mr. Henry Hill, late of 53, Marine Parade, Brighton, who died on April 1 last, was proved on the 19th ult. After bequeathing certain pecuniary legacies to his executors; and members of his widow’s family and others, including a bequest to the Tailors’ Institution, he gives to his widow the enjoyment during her life of his residence and furniture and stables and carriages, also of his galleries and his collection of pictures. The testator also gives to his widow a legacy of £3000 and an annuity of £2500; and, subject to the above, he divides his estate amongst his nephews and nieces.
Transcript of the Fine Art Sub Committee Report November 13th 1874
Fine Arts Sub-Committee
“At the Meeting Held November 13th, 1874.
“The following report was presented –
“We beg to report that the arrangements you deputed us to make are progressing very satisfactorily. Our communication with Artists have been most favourably received, and the following distinguished list of honorary corresponding members, who are earnestly exerting themselves for the success of the Exhibition, has been formed:
• John Pettie, Esq., R.A. 21, St John’s Wood Road, London W.
• William McTaggart, Esq., R.S.A. E3 Hope Street, Edinburgh,
• E. H. Stephens, Esq., A.R.A Buckingham Palace Road, London
• W.Q. Orchardson, Esq., A.R.A. Hyndford House, 239 Brompton Road, London
• H.W.B. Davis, Esq., A.R.A. 10A, Cunningham Place, St John’s Wood, London
• John MacWhirter, Esq., A.R.S.A. 1, Titchfield Road, Regents Park, London
• Mons. E V. Galland, Chevalier of the Legion of Honour, Paris
• Josef Israels, Esq., The Hague,Holland
• Phil R. Morris, esq., 11 Queen’s Road, Chelsea
• Frank Holl, Esq., 30 Gloucester Road, Regents Park, London
• R. Beavis, Esq., 38, Fitzroy Square, London
• H.G. Hine, Esq., 26 Park Road, Haverstock Hill, London
• Henry Moore, Esq., 4, Sheffield Terrace, Kensington, London
• F. Grace, Esq., The Vines, Amberley, Sussex.
“Having secured the hearty co-operation of these gentlemen, and consulted personally with the managers of London exhibitions, who afforded us valuable assistance in every way, the next step was to issue 1000 circulars to artists of known merit. Although the circulars only went out on Saturday and Monday, it is most gratifying to say that 62 Artists, including A. Armitage, Esq., R.A., Henry O’Neil, Esq., A.R.A., Phil. R. Morris, Esq., Frank Holl, Esq., Henry Moore, Esq., Neville O. Lupton, Esq., Henry Camptosto, and many eminent foreign artists, have already responded, and are sending 102 pictures, many of these being their best works, and varying in price from five to seven and eight hundred guineas.
“Arrangements have been made for their transmission by Mr. Bourlet, the London Agent, employed by the Committees of the Liverpool, Glasgow, and Birmingham Exhibitions.
“Already it is certain that we shall have a very splendid exhibition, and the replies to the circular, and information received from corresponding members, also point to the likelihood of successful Water Colour Exhibitions in the Autumn. Indeed, several artists write that they have for years been of the opinion that Brighton was a very favourable place for Fine Arts Exhibition. One foreign artist writes, “As I live in London some of my foreign artist friends have begged me to send their works to the best exhibition in England, and I think it will be to their interest to have their pictures sent to Brighton.” It is strongly urged upon us by those who have had the greatest experience in such exhibitions, that their success in the sale of paintings greatly depends upon sufficient opportunity being afforded for quiet inspection of the different works.
“We beg to leave it to the Fine Arts Committee to suggest how this is to be secured, only adding that our own experience fully warrants us in saying that the time has come when, for the comfort of all who wish to enjoy the Gallery, something must be done to prevent the afternoon and evening assemblage of youths for the mere purpose of amusement.
“As the date fixed for receiving pictures is the 20th distant, and we propose to clear the walls on the 21st, it will be necessary to close the Gallery from that date till after the hanging of the new collection, which has been kindly and gratuitously undertaken by two of the London corresponding members. (Signed)
“Resolved – That the above report be adopted and that the following be added as the recommendation of the Sub-Committee.
“In other Galleries, including the very successful exhibition in connection with the Liverpool Free Library and Museum, the admission is at all times by payment, as the only means of securing the necessary quiet and the attendance of purchasers. We propose as an experiment for this first exhibition to make a moderate charge for admission on certain days.
“We believe this will be for the best interests of the ratepayers, as by such an arrangement a succession of exhibitions may be hoped for, which cannot be had at all if provision is not made to enable the artists to dispose of their works.
“We, therefore, propose that on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday the Gallery should be open free, including the Monday evening, and that on the other days there should be a moderate charge of 6d.; season tickets 2s. 6d. each might be adopted. (signed) “George Scott, Curator.”
We regret to record the death, at Brighton, on Saturday of Captain Henry Hill, of 53, Marine parade, Brighton, and 3 Old Bond Street, London. He was in his 70th year. Captain Hill had been chiefly known locally by the munificent assistance he has rendered the town at various times as an enthusiastic lover of art and the possessor or a large and valuable collection of pictures many of which have been recently engraved in the Magazine of Art. When the Public Picture Gallery was first projected a Committee of artists and connoisseurs was invited to assist the Pavilion Committee in carrying it out. Captain Hill, as Chairman, rendered the most substantial assistance, lending largely from his own valuable collection and inducing others to do the same. Through his persuasions, Phil Morris and others contributed works, and under his auspices new painters were encouraged to exhibit. Captain Hill has, more than most, developed rising talent, not only by judicious liberality, but by advice and by that business tact in which artists are often deficient. It is no disrespect to Clem Lambert to say he owes much of his present position to Captain Hill’s encouragement. It is well known that a difference of opinion led to the Captain’s resigning his position on the Committee, but it is not generally understood that to the last he did his utmost to assist the Picture Gallery by loans and advice. As a contributor to the School of Art, Captain Hill was most liberal and he assisted it by his large loan of money and by serving energetically on its Committee. The deceased for many years was a member of the Brighton Town Council, but resigned his seat a few years ago. He was well known throughout the town and the record of his death will be received with universal regret. The funeral takes place at the Extra Mural Cemetery on Wednesday next. The arrangements are in the hands of Messrs. Hannington.
Death of Mr Henry Hill, – The announcement of the death of Mr Henry Hill, better-known as “Captain Hill”, which occurred on Saturday at is residences on the Marine-parade, will occasion little surprise; for his condition had for months past been such as to excite the concern of his friends. The cause of death was melancholia […] Captain Hill was not a native of Brighton, his birth-place being, we believe, Uttoexeter, to the parish Church of which he presented a year or two ago a fine window, at a cost of £2,000.
Argus Obituary 12th April 1882
[…] his house, at 53, Marine parade was literally crammed with works of art. Behind the house he has 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 English and French schools.
The Brighton Guardian 15.4.1882
Death and funeral of Captain Hill. As briefly announced in last weeks Guardian, Capt. Hill expired on Saturday the 1st last, at his residences on the Marine-parade […] being an enthusiastic lover of art, it is perhaps with regard to the Corporation Picture Gallery that he rendered the greatest service to the Town Council. He was an admirable judge of pictures, and made a collection of works of art, which, containing many gems and much good work as it did, gained a name in the art world. Some few months ago this collection was the subject of an article in the well-known Magazine of Art, published by Campbel, Peter and Galpin. He was one of the first and most active promoters of the Corporation Fine Art Exhibitions, whose growth and success owed much to his discernment and influence. Even when he resigned his seat in the Council, he continued his services in the cause of the Picture Gallery, and when he ceased his connection with the Fine Art Sub Committee, appointed by the Pavilion Committee of the Town Council, he retired with the sincere and expressed regret of the Council. But he also directed his labours into other channels. He took a fervid interest in the Brighton School of Science and Art and fittingly formed one of its Committee of management […]
The Brighton Guardian 26th January 1881
Retirement of Captain Hill.
The Fine Arts Sub-Committee, in their report to the Pavilion Committee, said – Captain Hill having required that his name should be withdrawn from the Committee, it was resolved: “That the Committee desires to express their deep sense of the services rendered by Captain Hill, and their extreme regret at his withdrawal” The Committee confirmed the minutes.
Mr Alderman Brigden proposed the adoption of the proceedings, and said he was sure that the Council would join the Pavilion Committee in regretting the retirement of Captain Hill (hear, hear), who has given a large amount of time in promoting the success of the Picture Gallery since it had been opened. (hear, hear.) He had been Chairman of the Fine Arts Sub-Committee from the commencement, and he (speaker) was sorry that the committee had not passed a vote of thanks to Captain Hill for his valuable services. (Hear, hear.)
Mr Councillor Button seconded the proposition.
Mr Alderman E. Martin said he should like to propose a vote of thanks to Captain Hill for his past services. He was quite sure every gentleman who was acquainted with the history of the Picture Gallery must know that its success was much owing to the active interest he had taken in it. Captain Hill had not only contributed largely to the exhibitions, but he had at the same time sent some of his finest pictures. A gentleman who had thus devoted himself to the Gallery certainly deserved the best thanks of the Council. (Hear, hear.)
Mr Councillor W. B. Wood (Pavilion Ward) seconded Mr Alderman E. Martins proposal.
Mr Councillor Farr wished to know if Capt. Hill had been asked to reconsider his resignation. He thought that if Capt. Hill had been approached in a proper spirit, he was such a large-hearted and kind-hearted gentleman that he would not have retired.
Mr Alderman H. Martin said that there could be no doubt Capt. Hill deserved the thanks of the Council and no gentleman’s services had been more highly appreciated than Capt. Hill’s for the committee had, over and over again, thanked him for them. He assured Mr Councillor Farr that Capt. Hill had been approached in a “proper spirit.” A deputation had waited upon him and asked him to reconsider his decision, but the appeal was of no avail.
The Mayor said he could not at the present stage of the proceedings, accept Mr Alderman E. Martin’s resolution as it was out of order.
Mr Alderman Brigden said he would have been pleased to second the proposal had he not known that it was out of order. The three sub-committes would have a joint meeting in a few days and that the matter would be considered and their report would be placed on the agenda. It would then come before the Council in a regular way.
Mr Alderman E. Martin on that understanding withdrew […]
The Brighton Guardian 18th Feb 1881
Captain Hill’s services.
At a general joint meeting of the Pavilion Committee and Library, Museum and Fine Arts Sub-Committes, it was resolved – “That this meeting, having learnt with extreme regret that Captain Henry Hill has resigned his seat on the Fine Art Sub-Committee, desire to convey to him their deep sense of the eminent services which he has rendered during the past eight years, not only in the discharge of his duties as Chairman and as a member of the Selecting Committee, but also by the loan of valuable works of art, by substantial assistance to the Art Unions, by untiring energy in the promotion of sales, and by prompt and liberal encouragement of artistic talent.” It was recommended that a copy of the foregoing resolution be engrossed on vellum, and presented to Captain Hill.
Mr Alderman Brigden moved the adoption of the proceedings, and said he was inclined to think Captain Hill’s retirement would prove a pecuniary loss to the Picture Gallery, and he hoped the time would come when he might be persuaded to come amongst them again – (hear, hear), – for a more genial and kind hearted man never sat in that Council.
Mr Alderman Lester seconded the proposition, and it was agreed to.
The artists below are known to have been mentioned in or associated with this publication.