Reginald Brill - ' Italian hilltop town'

Artist Name:

Reginald Brill





Painting Name:

Italian hilltop town

Current Location:

Available for sale but currently not on display

Signed lower right

Oil on Canvas

44cm x 35cm


£ 2,495.00

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Available for sale from Big Sky Fine Art; this original oil painting by Reginald Brill dating from around 1950s.
The painting is presented and supplied in its original frame that has been redressed and freshened with colouring to suit the subject. The painted surfaces and canvas have benefitted from some light restoration, cleaning and conservation, which took place in 2015 on our instructions.
Previously with Freya Mitton.

Reginald Brill was an outstanding realist painter, born in London in 1902. He spent his early childhood both in London and in Yorkshire. At just thirteen he enrolled at classes at St Martins School of Art. He lived in lodgings in the city, working in an office by day and attending art classes in the evenings. In 1921, he won a scholarship to the Slade, which was a considerable achievement, considering his almost total lack of a formal education. He studied there under the guidance of Henry Tonks until 1924. As a graduate he found patronage in Lincolnshire, painting murals for Christopher Hatton-Turner for two years. By 1926, at the time of the General Strike, he had returned to London and was working on Lansbury's Labour Weekly. The following year he married another artist, Rosalie, and won the Prix de Rome in Decorative Painting. He then studied for two years at The British School in Rome before returning to England and began teach at Blackheath School of Art, Greater London.

During 1930 he spent three months painting in Egypt as the guest of the Egyptian government. Whilst there he met Col. T.G. Gayer- Anderson, one of two twin brothers who were to later bequeath their Tudor home, The Little Hall in Lavenham, Suffolk as a hostel for art students.

In 1934, Brill took up an appointment as Principal of The School of Art in Kingston upon Thames, where he remained until 1962. He was a hugely influential and widely respected figure at the school initiating the development of a new, purpose built School of Art which established Kingston with a national reputation for excellence. In the local community, he set up a topographical collection of paintings depicting Kingston, which has since become known as The Brill Collection at Kingston Museum. Brill was a respected and well known figure in the community and his eloquence made him a popular after dinner speaker too. Whilst teaching he also wrote and published two educational books on art, Modern Painting, 1946, and Art as a Career, 1962, whilst continuing to paint. His own works were regularly exhibited along with leading artists of the day at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibitions as well as the Leicester Galleries.

In 1962 Brill retired to The Little Hall, where, together with his wife, he spent ten happy years as Warden of the hostel until his death in 1972. Even during his so-called retirement, he was a regular exhibitor at the Phoenix Gallery, Lavenham, which gallery held a large retrospective exhibition there in 1974.

Brill’s series of major paintings, known as ‘The Martyrdom of Man’, were carried on in parallel to his career as a teacher. These paintings reflect his care for his fellow men and depict people at work, e.g. The Operation, Jury, Linemen, Waiting Room, and Rest. ‘The Operation’ was sold from the 1985 Kingston Retrospective and has since been acquired by The Welcome Foundation as part of its Medical Art Collection. ‘Rest’ was was bought by the Tate Gallery and today hangs in Tate Britain. His smaller works deal with the theme of everyday events and communication amongst people.

The intrinsic Englishness of his work, with its narrative theme and the emphasis on people in their environment, combined with his interest and concern in human behaviour results in an extraordinary legacy. Today Brill’s work is represented in a number of public art galleries.

This original oil on canvas is a calm soothing scene, notable for its stunning palette of sweet greens, mellow mauves and pale blues. It depicts expansive rolling hills in the foreground, and grand purple topped mountains in the background, under a cloudy blue sky. In the centre of the study is a small Italian town, white buildings nestling into the surrounding countryside, with their pink terracotta roofs giving just the right accent of colour to complete the composition. There are some dark green trees of various shapes dotted around the town. We think of summer days in Tuscany or Umbria…


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