|Born||Tristram Paul Hillier
11 April 1905
|Died||18 January 1983
|Elected||ARA 1957, FRA 1967|
Tristram Hillier was born on 11 April 1905 in Peking, China, the youngest of the four children of Edward Guy Hillier (1857–1924), a banker and diplomat, and Ada Everett. A Roman Catholic, he was educated at Downside School. In 1922 he returned to China to study the language, and then until 1924 attended Christ's College, Cambridge. He went to the Slade in 1926, where he studied under Henry Tonks, and then to Paris where he studied for two years under André Lhote, and also at the Atelier Colarossi.
In Paris he met many members of the Surrealist movement; he was particularly influenced by Giorgio de Chirico and Max Ernst. He lived in France until 1940, but travelled extensively; he remained a surrealist painter throughout his life.
His first one-man show was at the Lefevre Gallery in 1931; he later exhibited mainly at Tooth's Gallery. From 1933 he was a member of the Unit One group led by Paul Nash. During the Second World War he served in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve with the Free French. After the war he lived in France and in Spain, and then went to live at East Pennard in Somerset, England. His autobiography Leda and the Goose was published in 1954. A retrospective exhibition of his work was held at the Worthing Gallery in 1960. He was made an Associate of the Royal Academy (ARA) in 1957, and a Royal Academician (RA) in 1967.
Hiller married twice. From 1931 to 1935 he was married to Irene Rose Hodgkins, the daughter of a bookmaker, with whom he had twin sons, Jonathan and Benjamin. From 1937 he was married to Leda Millicent Hardcastle, daughter of Sydney Hardcastle, the inventor of the First World War Hardcastle torpedo; they had two daughters, Mary and Anna-Clare.
Tristram Hillier died in Bristol, England, on 18 January 1983.
- Jenny Pery (2008) Painter Pilgrim: The Art and Life of Tristram Hillier. London: Royal Academy of Arts. ISBN 9781905711185.