American Art Week Window Display, 1950’s

October 6th, 2015, 10:58H · Topics: Around Town, Business, Famous And Not So... · Print

“Here is a picture of the Florida National Bank when they were on the corner of Forsyth and Laura. 50’s. It was advertising the Art Week here in Jacksonville, FL.”  LS

Upon closer inspection the signage in the widow gives us a little more information about the reason for the display. The banner of one poster says American Art Week and Florida, The Italy of the New World. It lists Permanent collections in the state including the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Norton Gallery in West Palm Beach, Clearwater Art Museum at Belleair and the Morse Gallery in Winter Park. It then goes on to list Art Centers and Galleries in Clearwater, Daytona Beach, Jacksonville, Miami Beach, Palm Beach, St. Augustine, St. Petersburg and Sarasota.

Another label in the window reads, These pictures were chosen as the five most outstanding by popular vote of visitors at the recent exhibition of work by students at the Harold Hilton Studio. I started researching Harold Hilton and discovered that he has a significant place in Florida Art History. I came across work by Dr. Alfred Frankel, an emergency room physician in St. Petersburg, Florida who has extensively researched Florida artists prior to 1960 and he has allowed me to share a portion of his findings on Hilton.

“An Englishman, Harold Hilton worked as a store clerk while studying art at London’s Polytechnic School. He later immigrated to the United States and continued his studies at the Art Institute of Chicago. During the First World War Hilton was chief designer for the Federal Sign System and worked as a painter for the U.S. Army camouflage unit. He moved to Jacksonville in 1925 and began cruising Florida waters from his home on the St. John’s River. In 1930 Hilton was elected president of the Florida Watercolor Society and from 1937-1938 and 1947-1948 president of the Florida Federation of Art. His work in Jacksonville included murals for the George Washington Hotel auditorium, the Indian Room of the Seminole Hotel, and the Peacock Club. Hilton did murals in Miami for the ceilings of the Florida National Bank and the Du Pont Building in Miami, and in Key West for the La Concha Hotel. The Du Pont ceiling mural was a Florida tarpon fishing scene, The Silver King. He was known in Jacksonville for his decorations for the annual “Ye Mystic Revellers” Coronation Balls.”

Hilton is listed in the Jacksonville City Directory as a portrait artist in 1929 with a studio at 420 Main Street. In the 40’s to 1950 he had a studio on 9 East State Street. I spoke with Holly Keris, the chief curator at the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens who said the museum has several pieces of his work in their collection. Harold Walter Hilton died in 1959.


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  1. 1 Ann Manry Kenyon December 27th, 2016 17:20H

    I was a student in Harold Hilton’s art classes from 1949 until 1953 when I left to attend Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Al. The classical foundation given to me by Mr. Hilton was the basis of the national reputation in portraiture I enjoy today. I have recently published a 300 page memoir/art book with over 100 color images. Memories, Method, and Mastery is dedicated to Mr. Harold Hilton.

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About Photographer Loyd Sandgren

I first met Loyd Sandgren in 1997 as I was putting photo gear back into my car after... Learn More