Abby Williams Hill

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Abbey Wiliams Hill
Abby Rhoda Williams Hill.jpg
Portrait of Abby Williams Hill, taken in Grinnell, Iowa.
Abby Rhoda Williams

EducationArt Student's League
Known forLandscape painting

Abbey Williams Hill (1861-1943) was an American plein-air painter most known for her landscapes of the American West.[1] Hill also advocated for children's rights, attended the 1905 Congress of Mothers in Washington, D.C., and founded the Washington (state) Parent-Teacher Association.[2]

Hills' painting of a gorge in Chelan County, Washington that was one of 24 of her paintings exhibited at the 1904 World's Fair.

Early life and education[edit]

Hill was born Abby Rhoda Williams, the daughter of Henry W. and Hanett Hubbard Williams, in Grinnell, Iowa. She studied art at the Art Students' League in New York under William Merritt Chase. In 1888, she and her husband, Frank Hill, a homeopathic doctor,[3] settled in Tacoma, Washington.[4] They had one son and adopted three daughters.[5]


In the early 1900s, the Great Northern Railway and the Northern Pacific Railway commissioned Hill to paint landscapes of the northwestern United States to promote tourism.[6] The commission required that Hill produce 22 paintings in just 18 weeks, and that she produce them en plein air.[7] Accompanied by her four children, Abby Hill took prolonged camping trips for the purpose of painting scenery in places such as Yosemite National Park and Yellowstone National Park.[4] Her works were exhibited at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis and the 1905 Lewis & Clark Centennial Exposition in Portland. Over the course of her career, Hill achieved her goal of painting in every national park in the Western United States.[4]

Her husband became incapacitated by psychotic depression in 1911, so the family moved to the small isolated community of Laguna Beach, California, for the benefit of the mild, sunny climate. Abby Hill was one of several early-20th-century American artists who built studios in Laguna Beach and transformed it into an artist community.[1] She became a founding member of the Laguna Beach Art Association.[1]

Following the death of her husband in 1938, Abby Hill became bedridden. She died in Laguna Beach in 1943.


A permanent collection of her works and papers is held by the University of Puget Sound.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Kovinick, Phil; Yoshiki-Kovinick, Marian (January 1998). An encyclopedia of women artists of the American West. American Studies. University of Texas Press. ISBN 9780292790636.
  2. ^ Hanson, Linda (June 30, 2005). "A century of advocating for children". Seattle Post Intelligencer. Retrieved 14 October 2013.
  3. ^ "Abby Williams Hill Biography". Collins Memorial Library: Abby Williams Hill Collection. University of Puget Sound. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
  4. ^ a b c Farr, Sheila (July 20, 2007). "Abby Williams Hill: unfettered in life and art". Seattle Times. pp. Visual Arts. Archived from the original on 12 August 2014. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
  5. ^ "Historical Note". Guide to the Abby Williams Hill Papers 1880s-1930s. NWDA. 2011. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
  6. ^ Huberman, Bond (October 2, 2009). "A Woman in Love with the Great Wide Open". City Arts. Tacoma: Encore Media. Archived from the original on 2011-06-25. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
  7. ^ Hishimoto, Molly. "A Woman Lured West: Abby Hill's Legacy of Art & Conservation". Chattermarks. North Cascades Institute. Retrieved July 30, 2014.
  8. ^ "Abby Williams Hill Digital Collection". University of Puget Sound. 2013. Retrieved 12 October 2013.

Further reading[edit]

  • Fields, Ronald (1989). Abby Williams Hill and the lure of the West (1st ed.). Washington State Historical Society. ISBN 9780917048630.