Thomas Hill, Mount Tallac from Lake Tahoe, 1880
Oil on canvas, 35 5/8 x 55 7/8 in. (90.5 x 141.9 cm). Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Bequest of M. H. de Young, 41.1.8
Thomas Hill settled in San Francisco in 1861 and made his first trip to the Yosemite Valley in 1865 (with painter Virgil Williams and photographer Carleton Watkins). Throughout his career he explored California's natural scenery, making oil sketches that he later developed into finished paintings. Hill's paintings played an important role in shaping public perceptions of California in an era when the state remained otherwise inaccessible to most Americans: "Mr. Hill's reputation . . . rests chiefly on the magnificent picture he has executed of the sublime scenery of California. Who has not heard of the big trees and tremendous cliffs and valleys of California? Everything there is on a large scale. . . . It was such landscapes as these that Mr. Hill undertook to paint when he went to California to live, and to those who had not yet seen [the California landscape] these paintings were like a revelation." [S. G. W. Benjamin, Our American Artists (Boston: D. Lothrop & Co., Publishers, 1879), 22-26]
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