J.J. Hilder An Appreciation by Julian Ashton
On April 10, 1916, at Hornsby, there passed from this world of shadows into eternity a most vivid personality. After a gallant fight with consumption for ten years, a losing fight, borne with hope and cheerfulness, the end came and J.J. Hilder, the most brilliant and romantic water colourist Australia has so far produced, joined the great majority at the early age of 34. Beyond a small circle of friends his work was but little known.
If it is true that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Hilder had a very appreciable effect upon many of the workers in water-colour. But, though it is not difficult to copy the breadth and simplicity of his style, his unerring sense of composition and his tender insight into Nature’s mysteries were his and his alone.
In his earlier work he had a gem-like method of mosaic, which placed accurately drawn forms of brilliant colour in juxtaposition with an effect akin to jewellery. Later, he broadened and harmonised and simplified, until in the best examples of his work, Hilder, as a landscapist, is not only unsurpassed here, but I make bold to say would take the highest place in any collection of modern watercolours.
Simple, very direct, and sincere in his relations to life, there are many who mourn not only the gifted man, but the large hearted friend. His work, which was but a reflection of a beautiful mind, will always challenge and hold the attention of all who are attuned to beauty. And Time, when he has winnowed this clamorous heap on which we breathe, may well place a spray of laurel on the resting place of Jesse Jewhurst Hilder.