South Australian engraver, painter and arts educator Charles Hill was born in Coventry, England, in 1824. His father was an officer who served under Lord Wellington and was later the reforming Governor of Leicester County Prison. Charles was more interested in art than a military career and served an apprenticeship as line engraver to Mark Lambert in Newcastle upon Tyne. In 1840 he enrolled in the Newcastle Fine Arts Academy and took lessons at the Government School of Design. He was one of those responsible for the famous engraving which depicted the opening on The Crystal Palace in 1851.
Hill emigrated to South Australia on the recommendation of Archdeacon Farr (1819–1904), in the hope that a change of climate would be good for his health, arriving on the Historia in 1854. He found employment as art teacher at St. Peter’s College, the Adelaide Educational Institution (AEI), Mrs. Woodcocks Christ Church school room; Miss Roland’s school on Tavistock Street, and later Mrs. Bell’s school. He opened his own School of Art in his home in Pulteney Street in 1856.
Hill and fellow drawing master W.W. Whitridge formed the South Australian Society of Arts. He then founded the South Australian School of Design in 1861, and Hill was chosen as its first Master; a role he maintained through several changes of name and focus, until he retired around 1886. He was also a member of Adelaide’s Bohemian Club. Charles Hill died on 16 September 1915.
Notable paintings include:
- Wreck of the Admella donated to the Art Gallery’s historic collection by the artist’s grandson H. L. Hill in 1944
- The Artist and His Family
- The Back Garden (ca.1870) held by the National Gallery of Australia
“Is It Art?”