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An image of Deviation work by J J Hilder

J J Hilder

(Australia 23 Jul 1881 – Apr 1916)

Deviation work
Other titles:
The deviation work
(circa 1913)
Media category
Materials used
pencil, watercolour

65.0 x 52.0 cm sight

Signature & date
Signed l.r. corner, ?black watercolour "J.J. Hilder". Not dated.
Bequest of Julius Wilfred (Wilf) Hilder 2011
Accession number
Not on display
Further information

J J Hilder was the most admired of all early 20th century Australian watercolourists who died very young of tuberculosis in 1916. 'Deviation work' is one of the biggest, most restrained and reductive of his watercolours, a poetic distillation of the qualities that set Hilder apart from his contemporaries and his many followers – painted in delicate, fluid and shimmering washes of watercolour, spare and original in composition. The subject is the Lithgow entrance (portal) to tunnel number 9, one of the deviations of the Zig-Zag railway line in the Blue Mountains during construction in 1913. There is another watercolour in a private collection by Hilder of the same railway tunnel from ground level.

The elevated view of the tunnel in strong sunlight in 'Deviation work' accentuates its abstract and poetic qualities, rather like Arthur Streeton's Fire's on (painting & watercolour), where incident is secondary to the intense midday summer light and its daring design.

Bibliography (3)

Captain Brett Hilder and Lloyd Rees, The heritage of J. J. Hilder, Sydney, 1966, pg. 22-23 (colour illus.).. plate V 'The deviation work'; dated [incorrectly] 1911.

Queensland Art Gallery and Captain Brett Hilder, Jesse Jewhurst Hilder: anniversary exhibition, Brisbane, 1966. cat. no. 55

Hugh Speirs, Manning Clark and John Olsen, Landscape art and the Blue Mountains, Australia, 1981, pg. 8 (illus.). Plate no. 15; titled and dated [incorrectly] "The deviation work 1911 [Glenbrook Tunnel]".

Exhibition history (1)

Jesse Jewhurst Hilder anniversary exhibition (1966-1967):