Nocturn

Born Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia 1881, died Sydney 1916


Jesse Jewhurst Hilder was a highly skilled watercolourist who was greatly influenced by the muted palette and rustic landscapes of the French artist Jean Baptiste Camille Corot. Working by day as a bank clerk in Sydney, Hilder took night classes with Julian Ashton from 1904–07. Ashton considered Hilder’s work to be outstanding and the two became friends. In 1908 they painted and sketched together while at Dumaresy, Armidale where Hilder was attempting to recover from tuberculosis.

A lover of the poetic in landscape, Hilder developed a unique style by layering his watercolour in fluid washes which floated and merged together, imparting a softness to his imagery. Nocturn (c.1910) is typical of Hilder’s compositions, featuring a house set in the distance and minimal detail in the foreground. A tranquil atmosphere is evoked by the soft light bathing the entire landscape in blues and mauves, illustrating his considered use of colour.

Between 1907 and his death in 1916, Hilder held many successful exhibitions. In 1966 he was the subject of a major touring exhibition presented by the Queensland Art Gallery, and he was also included in The Great Australian Art Exhibition 1788–1988, Art Gallery of South Australia and touring all state galleries (1988–89). His work is represented in all major state galleries and many regional galleries.