John William Hill (American, 1812–1879)
Watercolor, graphite, and gouache on off-white Bristol board
7 1/8 x 12 in. (18 x 30.5 cm)
Gift of J. Henry Hill, 1882 (82.9.1)
Hill's conversion in the late 1850s to the aesthetics of John Ruskin and the Pre-Raphaelites was manifested most notably in his still lifes. In 1857, Ruskin had written enthusiastically about the broken-color, or stipple, watercolor technique used by William Henry ("Bird's Nest") Hunt, the British master whose still lifes of humble subjects Ruskin especially prized. This watercolor well illustrates how closely Hill followed the example of Hunt as interpreted by Ruskin, creating wonderful effects with Ruskin's prescription of "interlaced touches of pure colours," some emulsified with gouache.