(American, 1859-1952)


Pastel on Card

14⅛ x 20 Inches

Signed Lower Right, "Laura Hills"


Although now best known for her floral works in pastel, Laura Coombs Hills was also a key figure in the revival of miniature painting in America. In 1904, she was awarded a Gold Medal for her miniatures at the St. Louis Exposition, and in 1916, she received the first Medal of Honor to be awarded by the Pennsylvania Society of Miniature Painters.


Laura Coombs Hills first studied at the Cowles Art School in Boston, the New York Art Students League, and with Helen Knowlton. Combs was active in several Boston art organizations, including the Boston Art Club and Watercolor Club, as well as the American Society of Miniature Painters, the Copley Society (from 1892), the Pennsylvania Society of Miniature Painters, the American Federation of Artists, Society of American Artists (from 1897) and was made an Associate of the National Academy of Design in 1906.


In the 1880s, Hills worked as a designer for Louis Prang and Company and also illustrated children's books. Her first solo exhibition took place at the Eastman Chase Gallery in Boston (1889), and was composed entirely of pastels. Hills soon established a routine of spending the winters at her Boston studio on Chestnut Street and summering in Newburyport at “The Goldfish,” a house that she had designed and built in 1900 on the bank of the Merrimac River.


Over the course of a long career, Hills exhibited widely and with success, including in Boston with Eastman Chase Gallery (1889, 1893), New York, the Paris Exposition Universelle (1900), the Art Institute of Chicago (1902-1930), San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exposition (1915), the Worcester Art Museum (1908), the Rembrandt Gallery in London (1908), the Portland Museum of Art (Maine, 1912) and the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Art (1898-1904, 1916, 1920, 1934). Coombs was the recipient of numerous prizes, medals and juried awards, including from the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Art (1916, 1920), a bronze medal at the Exposition Universelle (1900), silver medals at the Pan American Exposition, Buffalo (1901) and the Charleston Exposition, South Carolina (1902), and the Gold Medal at the 1904 St. Louis Exposition. Hills also won medals of honor at the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition and second place prize at Corcoran (Washington, 1901). Laura Coombs Hills's work can be found in the private and public collections worldwide including the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum in New York.


Laura Hills is well listed in all relevant artist dictionaries, including Who was Who in American Art and Benezit's Dictionary of Artists, which provide signature samples.



Who Was Who in American Art 1564-1975: 400 Years of Artists in America, Peter Hastings Falk, Sound View Press 1999, Vol. 2, p. 1567-1568; Mallett’s Index of Artists, Daniel Trowbridge Mallett, Peter Smith: New York 1948 Edition, R.R. Bowker Company 1935, p. 194; E. Benezit, Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs, et Graveurs, Jacques Busse, 1999 Nouvelle Édition, Gründ 1911, Vol. 7, p. 53-54; Thieme-Becker Allgemeines Lexikon der Bildenden Künstler von der Antike bis zu Gengenwart, Ulrich Thieme and Felix Becker, Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag 1992, Vol. 17, p. 103; Mantle Fielding’s Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors and Engravers, Glen B. Opitz, Apollo Press 1983, p.433; et al.







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