HILTON, WILLIAM (1786-1839), English painter, was born in Lincoln on the 3rd of June 1786, son of a portrait-painter. In 1800 he was placed with the engraver J. R. Smith, and about the same time began studying in the Royal Academy school. He first exhibited in this institution in 1803, sending a " Group of Banditti "; and he soon established a reputation for choice of subject, and qualities of design and colour superior to the great mass of his contemporaries. He made a tour in Italy with Thomas Phillips, the portrait-painter. In 1813, having exhibited " Miranda and Ferdinand with the Logs of Wood," he was elected an associate of the Academy, and in 1820 a full academician, his diploma-picture representing " Ganymede." In 1823 he produced " Christ crowned with Thorns," a large and important work, subsequently bought out of the Chantrey Fund; this may be regarded as his masterpiece. In 1827 he succeeded Henry Thomson as keeper of the Academy. He died in London on the 30th of December 1839. Some of his best pictures remained on his hands at his decease such as the "Angel releasing Peter from Prison" (life-size), painted in 1831, " Una with the Lion entering Corceca's Cave " (1832), the " Murder of the Innocents," his last exhibited work (1838), " Comus," and " Amphitrite." The National Gallery now owns " Edith finding the Body of Harold " (1834), " Cupid Disarmed," " Rebecca and Abraham's Servant " (1829), " Nature blowing Bubbles for her Children " (1821), and " Sir Calepine rescuing Serena " (from the Faerie Queen) (1831). In the National Portrait Gallery is his likeness of John Keats, with whom he was acquainted. In a great school or period Hilton could not count as more than a respectable subordinate; but in the British school of the earlier part of the 19th century he had sufficient elevation of aim and width of attainment to stand conspicuous.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)