George Snow Hill
American, 1898 - 1969
Signed George S. Hill lower right; signed and titled on reverse.
A preliminary study for one of Hill's controversial 1934 murals at the Pinellas County Court House, Clearwater, Florida. The completed commission of five paintings, titled “Mural of the Sun”, depicted colorful images of Florida's lively beach scene particular to the cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg. Circuit Court Judge, John U. Bird felt the depiction of scantily clad young women in bathing suits would be a distraction to his courtroom, and he spearheaded the public rejection of these murals. The murals sparked outspoken local debate on the importance of art in public spaces. The murals were subsequently moved to the Clearwater Municipal Auditorium and unveiled on January 30, 1935. The building was demolished in 1973 and the murals have unfortunately been lost.
George Snow Hill was born in Munsining, MI in 1898. Hill studied naval engineering and architecture at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA from 1917-18 and ultimately received his Bachelor’s degree from Syracuse, University in Syracuse, NY in 1923. He was awarded a fellowship for foreign study and went to Paris to study at the Acadamie Colarossi and the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere. He maintained his own studio in Paris during this time and painted and traveled throughout Europe. He exhibited regularly at the Salon des Artistes Francaise from 1923-1929 and had a one-man exhibition at Simonson Galleries in Paris in 1924. Also, in 1924, he was invited to exhibit a painting at the Royal Academy in London, England. He returned to the United States in 1929 and lived in New York City where he worked as a portrait painter. In 1932, he set up a studio in St. Petersburg, FL. Hill became known as one of the most-important muralists in Florida, which such commissions as the Pinellas County Courthouse/Clearwater Municipal Auditorium, Clearwater, FL, 1934, the Coast Guard Station in St. Petersburg, FL, 1937, Janus Administration Building of the Tampa, FL airport, 1938, U.S. Post Office murals in Perry, FL, 1940 and Milton, FL, 1941. He was also commissioned to do the murals for the Florida buildings at the Century of Progress Exhibition in Chicago, IL in 1933 and the New York World’s Fair in 1939. Hill exhibited at Ferargil Galleries in New York, NY in 1927 and 1929, the Syracuse Museum of Fine Arts, Syracuse, NY, 1927-32, Speed Art Museum, Louisville, KY, 1928, among others. In 1946, he founded the Hill School of Art in St. Petersburg, FL.
Hill’s work can be found in the permanent collections of the Wolfsonian Institute in Miami, FL, , the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., the Georgia Museum of Art, Athens, GA, the Syracuse Museum of Fine Arts, Syracuse, NY and the J.B. Speed Museum of Art, Louisville, KY. Hill died in St. Petersburg, FL in 1969.