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Derek Hill and Friends

Derek Hill and Friends

Sat, Jun 21st, 2008
Ross Fine Art

Derek Hill was born in England in 1916. He studied in Munich and Vienna and worked in Russia before spending a year in Paris. Here he absorbed the art of painters such as Bonnard and Picasso.
From 1939-45 Hill lived in London where he was in contact with the Euston Road Painters. It was at this time that he met and almost married the official war artist Mary Kessel.
In 1946 he spent a year in the west of Ireland and commented that in particular Achill Island had “made a tremendous impression”. In this exhibition we have a very fine work from 1979, “Towards Sleivemore, Achill from Inishkeen south, deserted village”.
In 1954 Hill bought St Columb’s house in Churchill and there he founded the Glebe Gallery. By 1958 he was spending a lot of time painting on the far western outpost of Tory Island. It was at this time that he befriended James Dixon and from this alliance there emerged one of the greatest groups of Primitive painters , The original group of Tory Painters of which Dixon (1887-1970) was the most prolific.
A magnificent monograph on Hill was written by Lord Gowrie, Minister for the Arts in the eighties. In this Gowrie aimed to emphasize the more modern aspects of Hill’s landscapes and commends him “ We have in Hill a master of landscape, a leading twentieth century painter in this field”.The Tory Island painting in this exhibition is a fine example of Hill’s more textural approach which can also be seen in work such as “Downs at Long Crichel”1985 (illustrated in Gowrie’s book).
Hill was an honorary member of the Royal Hibernian Academy and in 19?? President Mc Aleese conferred honorary Irish citizenship on him.
Derek Hill died in London in 2000.


As a nation we are fortunate that in 1980 Derek Hill kindly donated his house, gallery and substantial art collection to the State. Incredible to think that here in Donegal we have work by masters such as Picasso, Kokoshka, Yeats and Sickert.
Hill was an eager traveller and a passionate collector of art. Aside from the masters, Hill collected work by talented lesser known or neglected artists.As evident on the walls of Glebe House, Hill was renowned for having a keen eye for proficient artists.
In this exhibition we are bringing together an eclectic mix of artists from France, Germany, England, Kenya, Scotland and Ireland whose works were part of that collection.
We have a major work by a foremost French painter Jacques Truphemus. On the reverse of this is a letter which tells of the friendship between the two artists and adds to the fact that Hill was so well respected by fellow painters.
Simon Bussy studied at Ecole des Beaux Arts under Delauney and Moreau and exhibited at the official Salon.He was a central figure in the Parisian art scene and counted among his friends, Matisse and Roualt.
There are two delightful examples of the work of the German painter Hans Steffens.
One of our most successful artists the important Impressionist painter Wolfram Stumpf is also represented in Hill’s collection.
A lovely watercolour was gifted to Derek by the artist Susannah Mortensen. She is a highly accomplished water colour painter, born in Kenya she studied at Chelsea School of Art.
Brian Perrin would be a well regarded printmaker and featured in a British Council exhibition of printmakers.
We have an exquisite watercolour by the Scottish artist John Halliday who studied at Glasgow School of Art and among many other awards, won two Royal Scottish Academy Awards. This work is a view from Auchencairn and still has it’s label telling us that it was bought by Derek Hill on 31.8.1970 for £15-0-0.

This is a glimpse at the calibre of artists that will be showing in this unique exhibition. Ross Fine Art are delighted to be able to bring this exhibition to Donegal

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