HILL'S GALLERY [Thomas Adams HILL]
Studio portrait of a gentleman. Melbourne, early 1860s.
Albumen print photograph, carte de visite format, 97 x 65 mm (mount); verso with imprint of ‘Hill’s Gallery, Next the Post Office, Melbourne’ and negative number in manuscript ‘138’; faint traces of tinting on the sitter’s face, a small red spot (perhaps left by the colourist?) to the right of his front knee, toning spot at lower margin; the mount is very clean.
From the DAAO:
‘Thomas Adams Hill. Painter and professional photographer, worked in Melbourne between 1855 and 1869. He produced portraits in every known photographic medium and he also painted miniatures on ivory.’
Hill is undoubtedly best known for his ambrotype portraits of the explorers Burke and Wills, now in the collection of the State Library of New South Wales. According to Davies & Stanbury (Mechanical Eye), Hill operated his Post Office Photographic Gallery (also known simply as Hill’s Gallery) at 3 Bourke Street, East between 1857 and 1863. Cartes de visite with his studio back mark are seldom sighted.
This fine full-length portrait came from an album belonging to the family of Scottish-born Murray River district squatter and grazier Alexander Sloane, of Mulwala and Savernake, southern New South Wales, and the important-looking gentleman sitter, whose soft felt hat rests on the studio plinth beside him, was most likely one of Sloane’s associates. Note the splendid Hill’s Gallery trompe-l’œil backdrop with its non-European trees.