John Hilton Oil Painting
John W Hilton (1904~1983) CALIFORNIA Desert Horizon OIL
The depiction of the desert scene measures 32" x 22" which includes the double wood and gilt frame.
The painting is signed John W Hilton, in script, lower right of painting. See our photo of the signature.
The painting is in great condition with no areas of loss or repair. You will not find a better example by this artist.
We welcome your questions about this painting. We obtained this painting from a Southern California estate sale. The painting appeared to have been in the home for several years and the owners appeared to have been personal acquaintances of Hilton, as other Hilton items and personal notes were offered separately at this same sale.
This biography from the archives of AskART.com.
Born in Carrington, North Dakota, John Hilton has a reputation for desert landscape painting, but he was also a writer, musician, geologist, miner, and entertainer.
His father was a baker, and the family lived in a shack on a farm. When he was four, he went to China with his mother and father, who became a missionary. There he met Chinese bandits, philosophers, and walked along the Great Wall by the time he was age 10. The family was separated during the Sun Yat Sen revolution, and thinking the father was dead, the mother returned to North Dakota where the father eventually found them.
John moved to Los Angeles in 1918 and worked for a gem company, but it folded during the Depression. Then he designed jewelry for Hollywood film stars and sold stones world wide.
In the 1930s, financially broke, he moved to the desert determined to become a painter and supporting himself as a singer and guitar player. He also operated a curio shop near Indio, California, and from that time lived either in the desert or a Twenty-Nine Palms. Sketching trips with Maynard Dixon, Nicolai Fechin, Jimmy Swinnerton, Orpha Klinker, and Clyde Forsythe influenced his style. He combined a beeswax mixture with his paints that gave his landscapes a special lustre. He wrote and illustrated several books including "Sonora Sketch Book," 1947, and "Hilton Paints the Desert" in 1964. His illustrations appeared in the "LA Times" and the "Saturday Evening Post."
He was highly successful financially and was elected to the Grand Central Galleries in New York where he had numerous exhibitions as well as in California. Hilton has also painted many landscapes of Hawaii where he had a summer home at Lahaina, Maui.
John W. Hilton is well listed. See references in Davenport's, Strangnell 'Landscapes of the West', Hughes 'Artists in California 1786-1940', McCall's 'California Artists 1935-1956', Karpel & Spiegel 'Arts in America', Ainsworth's 'The man who Captured Sunshine', Who is Who, Samuels 'Encyclopedia of Artists...', Treasury of Living Art from The Desert Art Center, Inc., Ainsworth 'Painters of the Desert', askart.com and others