American / California (1904-1983)




Oil on panel

Signed lower right: John W. Hilton

Housed in the original painted and giltwood panel frame; also inscribed verso

(Together with a photograph of Hilton with James Cagney)


Represented in 6 museums :

including Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe New, Mexico; Palm Springs Desert Museum, Palm Springs, CA;

Museum of Texas Tech University; and the San Diego Museum Natural History


Included in 22 books :

including monograph, The Man Who Captured Sunshine (Katherine Ainsworth);

author of Hilton Paints the Desert, and Sonora Sketch Book


Note :

The Sonora Desert was the setting for most of John William Hilton's paintings.  The works depict the fleeting desert light and atmospheric conditions - often quite delicate.  But many painters do that. There is something more hypnotic about Hilton's works - just as there is in the desert itself.  His technique employs a combination a beeswax mixture with the oil paints, giving his landscapes an encaustic quality and a luster that enhances the soft colorations. The foreground strokes are often almost three-dimensional, set against a flatly painted background, recreating the dimension of the vast spaces visible at once in the desert.  The colors range from "on-fire" to a soft evening glow.  The overall effect is one that is hard to take your eyes from.


Hilton led a rich, imaginative and colorful lifetime. Not only did he paint with notables in the art world (as Maynard Dixon, Nicolai Fechin, Jimmy Swinnerton, Orpha Klinker, and Clyde Forsythe), but with friends Dwight Eisenhower and James Cagney.  He selected the California site for a base for General George Patton, with whom he also remained friends. Howard Hughes visited him from time to time.  Each New Year's Eve, Hilton used to burn his "lesser" paintings in a huge desert bonfire, leaving behind ashes and tequila bottles - the ritual intended to make him strive for "greater" paintings. Hilton's work hangs in 6 museums - and while Eisenhower was President - hung in the Oval Office at the White House.



Image Size : 16” x 20” / Framed : 22.5” X 26.5”






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Twenty-Nine Palms, California, 1904-1983


Birth place: Carrington, ND

Addresses: Lahaina Maui, HI; Twentynine Palms, CA in 1976

Profession: Painter, illustrator


Studied: Maynard Dixon, Clyde Forsythe & Nicolai Fechin; International Institute Arts & Letters fellowship; American Institute Fine Arts fellowship.


Exhibited: Grand Central Galleries, NYC & Desert Southwest Galleries, Palm Desert, CA., 1970s. Hundreds of group & solo shows in US & abroad, 1935-72.


Member: Grand Central Art Gallery; Salmagundi Club; Laguna Beach Art Assn. (life member); Lahaina Art Association; Twenty-nine Palms Artists Guild (president, 1952-55; life member).


Work: US Air Force; Tokyo City Hall; Arizona Botanical Gardens, Phoenix; Museum New Mexico; Desert Southwest Art Gallery, Palm Desert, CA; La Verne College; National Park Visitor Centers; San Diego Museum Natural History; Palm Springs Desert Museum Commissions: murals, Desert Southwest Gallery, 1937 & Saddleback Western Gallery, Santa Ana, CA, 1962; diorama, Living Desert Reserve, Palm Desert, CA, 1972.


Comments: Hilton began painting in the 1930s. Preferred media: oils, wax. Publications: auth./illus., What Makes the Jumping Bean Jump," Saturday Evening Post, 1942; auth./illus., Sonora Sketchbook, Macmillan, 1947; "This Is My Desert," Arizona Highways, 1964; "Hilton Paints the Desert," Desert Magazine; plus many articles.


Sources: WW73; Dave Packwood," An Artist Looks at Baja California," Westways (March, 1956); Mason Sutherland, "California Escape to the Desert," National Geographic, 1957; Ed. Ainsworth, Painters of the Desert (Desert Mag., Publisher, 1960). "


Museums (6):

Leanin' Tree Museum of Western Art, Boulder, Colorado

Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe New, Mexico

Desert Southwest Art Gallery, Palm Desert, CA

Palm Springs Desert Museum, Palm Springs, CA

Museum of Texas Tech University

San Diego Museum Natural History


Books (22):

Fillmore, Gary Canyon, Magic Landmark Art from the Picerne Collection

Davenport, Ray, Davenport’s Art Reference

Dunbier, The Artists Bluebook

Hughes, Artists in California: 1786-1940

Hughes, Edan Milton, 2002Edition Artists in California

Falk, Peter Hastings, Who Was Who in American AR6t, 1564-1975

Stragnell, Landscapes of the West

McCall, California Artists 1935-1956

Karpel, Arts in America/A Bibliography

Ainsworth, The Man Who Captured Sunshine

Jacques Cattell Press, Who's Who in American Art

Samuels, Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West

New Mexico, Museum of Fine Art, Handbook of the Collections, Museum of Fine Arts

Museum of Texas Tech University, Selections from the Collection , Mr. & Mrs. Fred T     Hogan

Hilton John William, Hilton Paints the Desert

Barrie, Grand Central Art Galleries, Inc., 1971 Year Book

Desert Art Center, Inc., Treasury of Living Art

Barrie, Grand Central Art Galleries, 1965 Year Book

Ainsworth, Ed, Painters of the Desert

Ainsworth, Ed, Widening Horizons

Western Woman, Widening Horizons, Painters of the Western Desert

Hilton, John William, Sonora Sketch Book






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Click to View Catalog :


6 Early 20th Century American

Paintings Under 6000.00






We welcome and encourage all inquiries.  We will make every attempt to answer any questions you might have.


 For information, call (901) 761-1163 or (901) 827-4668 or email mfcreech@bellsouth.net 

( alternate email : mfordcreech@gmail.com)


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John William Hilton, California, Desert Afternoon