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Harry Pelling Gill (1855–1916)

A. Prominent Art Critic.

A private cablegram received in Adelaide on Tuesday announces the death of Mr. Harry P. Gill, late Principal and Examiner of the Adelaide School of Art, and one of the most conspicuous authorities in art circles in South Australia. The particulars available indicate that on Thursday last Mr. Gill died at sea, between Marseilles and Gibraltar, while on his voyage to England. He and Mrs. Gill had left South Australia by the Mongolia on April 20. The news of his death will not come altogether as a surprise, as during the past year he had been in ill health, which had caused hie many friends considerable anxiety.

Mr. Gill was born in London in 1855, and first studied in the Brighton School of Art. In 1875 he passed his entrance examination to South Kensington Art Schools (now College of Art), and is said to have been the first in England who did so. He took up his scholarship in 1879 after strenuous work, and some years after was made an Associate of the Royal College of Art. In 1882 he was appointed by the Agent General (Sir A. Blyth) to the Mastership of the School of Design in Adelaide. At that time Mr. Louis Tannert was Master of the School of Painting, but on Mr. Gill's promotion the two positions were merged into one, and Mr. Gill's title was made more comprehensive. The School of Design Mr. Gill, with the assistance of other well-known artists, developed into a large undertaking. After he had been in the employ of the board for about 27 years, an important enquiry was conducted into the question of whether the institutions under its control should in future be limited to a depository for the finished products of literature, natural history, and art, or still continue, so far as the teaching of art was concerned, an independent educational institution. It was ultimately decided, with the approval of the Government of the day, to give effect to the former ideal. The change was brought into operation at the beginning of the financial year 1909, when Mr. Gill ceased to hold the position of Director of Technical Art and Curator of the Art Gallery, and was appointed by the Government, which merged the School of Design as a going concern into the Education Department, to the position of Principal and Examiner of the Adelaide School of Art, at a beginning salary of £450 a year, which was afterwards increased to £500. Mr Gill took a prominent part in the selection of a large number of the pictures in the National Art Gallery, and three works among them are from hie own brush. For purposes of selection he was sent to England and the Continent, when about £10,000 was expended by him (in association with a committee of eminent artists in London) from the Elder bequest in the year 1899. He went later to New Zealand, where an international exhibition of pictures was held, and made several purchases on behalf of the board. Mr. Gill was a strict disciplinarian in the teaching department, and as a lecturer on art bad few successful rivals. Hie expositions were remarkably clear. He was extremely careful in the technique of painting and drawing. He took a prominent part in the affairs of the South Australian Society of Arts, of which he was President for a time, and also a member of the council for many years. About two years ago his health began to fail, and only a few months since he returned from a long absence on leave in the old country, but obviously not much benefited by the change. He gradually grew weaker until, as from July 1 last, he resigned his official position as Principal of the Adelaide School of Art. He had a second stroke of paralysis in September. Mrs. Gill who travelled with the deceased on The Mongolia and two sons — Mr. Lancelot Gill, of New South Wales, and Mr. Errol Gill, who is serving with the troops in Flanders — survive.

Original publication

Citation details

'Gill, Harry Pelling (1855–1916)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 29 May 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


9 March, 1855
Brighton, Sussex, England


27 May, 1916 (aged 61)
at sea

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