Carl Fredrik Hill (1849-1911) Sweden

Carl Fredrik Hill is considered to be one of Sweden's most prominent landscape painters, and his dramatic life story is one of the most peculiar and interesting in Swedish art history. The son of a professor in Lund, he was constantly opposed by his father, who did not want him to become an artist. Nevertheless, he succeeded in gaining admission to the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts. He received classical training there and then moved to Paris, the hub of the art world, where he frantically struggled to have his work accepted at the Salon, but his work was repeatedly rejected. Toward the end of the 1870s, he was diagnosed with mental illness and was subsequently cared for in mental hospitals in Sweden and in his parental home, but he remained highly productive. The French plein air movement had a great influence on nineteenth century depictions of landscapes, characterized by a quest for a lifelike portrayal of reality. Hill was strongly influenced by plein air painter Camille Corot, as can especially be noted in Hill’s early works, which in several other ways can be associated with the established conventions of landscape painting. From a high vantage point, Hill depicts a French river landscape and flowering fruit trees with at most a single feature of movement, lending the composition both a static and a harmonious character. During the same period Hill also produced a variety of works that look more like sketches and which differ greatly in their artistic approach. This sketch-like painting style took over more and more of Hill’s production toward the end of the 1870s and after he was admitted to a mental hospital his works mainly consist of drawings and contain many imaginative characters and scenes. Hill has occasionally been identified as a radical and as a forerunner to both expressionism and surrealism. Hill never achieved any great fame during his lifetime, but his work is currently represented at the Malmö Art Museum, Nationalmuseum and Sven Harry’s Art Museum.

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