Friday, June 14, 2019

The Peaceful Watercolors of J. J. Hilder

Jesse Jewhurst Hilder (1881-1916) was an Australian watercolorist who was adept at softness and simplicity. 

Here he groups together the dark values into a single interconnected shape. The boards of the structure that are in light are also grouped into a simple light shape without too much texture or definition.

These log-haulers are presented with an emphasis on atmospheric feeling. The far trees are rendered with a simple flat value, and the cool shadow in the foreground melts into the light. There appears to be some scrubbing out of the tone in the right area.

In addition to the softness and the lack of textural rendering, his palette is extremely restricted, with just a hint of warm and cool.

According to Wikipedia, "Hilder was modest, shy and affected by illness; this sometimes led to estrangement from his best friends. He was fortunate in his wife, in the admiration of his fellow artists, and in finding early buyers of his paintings. He was very critical of his own work and tore up much of it; sometimes the final result was the third or fourth effort to capture the subject. He was not afraid of empty spaces and everything in the drawing was beautifully placed. His colour was always excellent, though some of his later work is painted almost in monochrome washed in on very rough paper. The treatment generally is broad, yet full of refinement and poetical feeling."

He died of illness in 1916, as the world was being dislocated by WWI. Fellow artist Julian Ashton wrote in a memorial catalog of his work: "Often, in a disturbed mood, wrapt in black thoughts, I go to our National Gallery and sit in front of the Hilders, and by and by I come away filled with peace."
Jesse Jewhurst Hilder on Wikipedia
Related post: What is 'Poetic' in Art?
Book: The art of J. J. Hilder 1918
Thanks, David Webb


bernicky said...

Awesome post. Thank you for introducing me to this wonderful artist.

Maria Peagler said...

James - I've never before heard of Holder, but his work reminds me of Trevor Chamberlain. Thank you for this profile.

CerverGirl said...

I thank you as well for introducing me to the work of J. J. Hilder. I love the feeling of peace and light that comes from the subtle nuances and the soft neutral colors. The contrast of light and dark, especially in the first image, use that “shape welding” that you have coined in earlier posts/mentioned here— and I love the way it brings the eye to the focal point —and where the man’s shoe blends into the ground.

Glenn Tait said...

Love Hilder's work, enjoying to discover more and more about the history of Australian watercolourists. What I found interesting about Hilder is the number of aerial or bird's eye view paintings he did. Some look as though he would have needed a drone to even just get a picture of the scene. Interesting to know his working method on those ones.

Anonymous said...

Apparently, J.J. Hilder is my dad's first cousin. How weird is that? Cheers, from Australia.

Unknown said...

What beautuiful paintings - and a great article!