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Jesse Jewhurst Hilder (1881-1916)
Foley's Bay 1912
oil on wood
12.7 x 29.8 cm
Bequest of Howard Hinton 1948


Born 1881, Queensland. Died 1916, Sydney.

Jesse Jewhurst Hilder spent his childhood in Toowoomba and Brisbane. He joined the Bank of New South Wales and painted and sketched in his spare time. In 1906 he moved to work at head office in Sydney where he joined Julian Ashton’s evening classes. Influenced by the muted colour palette and rustic landscapes of the French artist Camille Corot, and the work of Arthur Streeton and Sydney Long hanging in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Hilder’s first exhibition at the Society of Artists was received with excitement by artists and critics.

Suffering from long-term tuberculosis, Hilder’s small but refined watercolour paintings sold well during his short career until illness restricted his painting output. In the forward to the Howard Hinton: Patron of Art, Goddard recounts that Howard Hinton was one of the first to recognise the rare quality in the art of Hilder, and following his artist's death in 1916, Hinton visited Hilder’s widow and offered to purchase the remaining works at a price set by her. Of the 31 Hilder works he acquired, three he sold to Dame Nellie Melba at her special request, 14 were donated by him to the AGNSW and four to the Armidale Teachers' College. The rest were given to Norman Lindsay, Elioth Gruner, his brother Leslie and other friends.

He kept this small oil 'Foley's Bay' for himself and it, along with ten other works he had hanging in his bedroom, was bequeathed to Armidale on his death in 1948. Oil was a rare medium for this artist. Hinton noted that “Hilder was not able to tolerate the smell of oil paints and did only three pictures in that medium”. The lemony-green tones of Foley's Bay depicts the bright Australian light, a small row boat on the water at Mooney Mooney Creek near Bobbin's Head.