Inspirational Artists: Rowland Hilder

April 3, 2017

Rowland Frederick Hilder OBE (1905 - 1993) was an English marine and landscape artist and book illustrator best known for his winter scences mainly of  'the garden of England' Kent.


Surprisingly he born in New York and in 1915 Hilder's English father decided to return to his native county of Kent to to enlist in the army. Hilder studied at Goldsmiths' College, in south London where he met his future wife botanical artist Edith Blenkiron.


He was commissioned by Oxford University Press to illustrate books. His decorative end papers and black and white drawings of "Treasure Island" in 1929 won him The Times illustrators award. In the 1930s he illustrated several books. In 1929 Hilder was commissioned by Shell Mex Ltd to illustrate "Then and Now", a travel guide which started a long relationship with the company with posters sponsored by them. In 1953 when asked by the publisher George Rainbird to provide background landscapes to a series of wildflowers by another artist, Hilder showed him pictures of flowers by his wife Edith. Rainbird then commissioned them both to create the Shell "Flowers of the Countryside" series. Demand was so great that Shell set up an office to deal with correspondence and 13 million plates were published.


However, its those clean watercolours of Oast Houses, farms and bare trees that one thinks of with Rowland Hilder. He didn't use the watercolour to wash the scence but rather to fill the gaps and enhance his almost draughtsman style of painting.





Hilder served as President of the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours from 1964 to 1974.[7] He was awarded the OBE in 1986.[

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