Framing Thomas Hill’s Yosemite Valley

A lucky customer turned up an unsigned painting of Yosemite by Thomas Hill (1829-1908)—a very special painting by a very special painter needing a very special frame. One of my all time favorite frame jobs is this grand Thomas Hill winter scene of the White Mountains of New Hampshire. At just 14-1/2″ x 11-1/2″, this one is considerably smaller, but we still wanted a hand carved frame suggestive of the forms in the painting as well as the geometric artistic forms associated with Native Americans and fond in the decor of the Ahwahnee Hotel (I know—it’s not officially “The Awhahnee” anymore, but I’m sticking with the old name!).

The soft palette suggested the cove profile, but the rugged rocks also called out for some acknowledgement by the frame. The steep profile leading in to the picture suits the steep valley walls and deep perspective. The gilt liner is a carved 45 degree bevel with a triangular carved pattern articulating the corners. The raised outer edge of the frame also has articulated corners. (See the corner detail below.)

Born in England, Hill came to the U.S. at age 15, marrying in 1851 and moving his large family to San Francisco in 1856. He first visited Yosemite in 1865, and would become closely associated with it. In later years he set up a studio at the Wawona Lodge.

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