3 facts about Harry Pelling Gill

By Gwylym Owen

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Harry Pelling Gill (9 March 1855 – 25 May 1916), commonly referred to as H. P. Gill or Harry P. Gill, was an English-born Australian art curator, teacher and painter, who lived in Adelaide, South Australia for much of his life.

Gill was born at Brighton, Sussex, England, the son of Alfred Gill and his wife Frances Elizabeth, née Pelling. Gill studied at the Brighton, Hove and Sussex Grammar School, the Brighton School of Art, and at the South Kensington School of Art (National Art Training School), where he won a scholarship in 1877.

In 1882 Gill was appointed master of the School of Design at Adelaide, selected by the Board of Governors of the South Australian Institute, and held this twist until 1909, when it was taken more than by the Education Department and became the Adelaide School of Art, with Gill as Principal and Examiner. Gill brought subsequent to him the South Kensington system of art education, which entailed copying with good exactitude.

He founded the Adelaide Art Circle in beforehand 1890 as an exclusive club, limited to 12 members and restricted to professional artists. It held several exhibitions that were usefully dominated by Gill’s function and was dissolved in 1892. In June that year Gill was elected president of the moribund South Australian Society of Arts and most committee positions were taken by members of the Circle, and marked a revival of the Society’s fortunes. Later that year a split in the Society resulted in the formation of the Adelaide Easel Club.

Gill published The Straight and Crooked Paths of Studentship in 1894. He was appointed honorary curator of the Art Gallery of South Australia, and in 1899 visited Europe where, with the suggestion of a committee, he spent £10,000 on works of art. He was also liable for purchasing works of juvenile Australian artists such as Tom Roberts, Hans Heysen and Frederick McCubbin.

Gill was a longtime member of the South Australian Society of Arts and its president from 1909 to 1911. He was an Associate of the Royal College of Art, London, and a Freemason.

He resigned from the School of Art on 1 July 1915 on account of ill health, and while on a voyage to England, for reasons of health, died in the Mediterranean along with Marseilles and Gibraltar on 25 May 1916, and was buried at sea. He was survived by his wife and two sons.

Gill had a great reputation as a theoretical and lecturer. One oil and three of his water-colours are in the Art Gallery of South Australia. One of his students was the architect Herbert Jory.

Harry Pelling Gill married Annie Waring Wright, a granddaughter of T. S. O’Halloran, on 29 April 1886. They had two sons:

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