The Carrie Hill Collection

Carrie Lillian Hill (1875 - 1957)


About the Artist

Born in Vance, Alabama, Carrie Lillian Hill was the oldest daughter and the second of five children. Her father, John La Fayette Hill, was a clerk with the Vance Mining and Supply Company. Her mother, Nancy Rebecca Vance Hill, was from the family for whom the coal-mining town was named. The couple’s first child was Robert Ernest Hill, born in 1872. After Carrie’s birth in 1875, John and Nancy had three more children: Phillip Edwin Hill, born in 1877; Sammye Katharine Hill, born in 1880; and John Scott Hill, born 10 years after Carrie. According to the family Bible, Carrie’s given name was Caroline Lillian Hill, but she never liked the name Caroline and always went by Carrie.

In 1891, when Carrie was 16, the family moved to Birmingham. Here she found a network of artists who would nurture her talent and support her efforts to become a professional painter.


Timeline of Significant Events in Carrie Hill's Life

Born in Vance, Alabama
Moves to Birmingham with her family
Attends Birmingham's Paul Hayne School; studies art with Rose Lewis
Studies watercolors with Caroline Lovell, Birmingham painter
Enters Birmingham Art School; studies with Yale-trained artist William D. Parrish
Listed in Birmingham city directory as an art student
Joins a sketch club formed by several former Birmingham Art School students
Carrie's father John Lafayette Hill dies; buried in Elmwood Cemetery, Birmingham
Rents studio with Mrs. J. B. Raulston on top floor of the Commercial Club building for work and conducting classes in china painting, oils, and watercolor
Joins Birmingham Art Club
April 21-25, enters six Florida landscapes in Birmingham Art Club’s first exhibition
Attends New York tonalist Elliot Dangerfield’s summer art school in North Carolina
Attends Arthur R. Freedlander’s plein-air school on Martha’s Vineyard: The decision proved to be a turning point for Carrie’s development as an artist. Freedlander was only five years older than Carrie but had studied under John Twachtman, William Merritt Chase, and Henry Siddons Mowbray. He worked in an impressionist style, and although his own palette tended toward soft pastel tones, he seems to have helped Carrie discover her own more vivid palette. During her four months at Freedlander’s school, she produced more than 50 sketches of scenes in and around Vineyard Haven.
Rents studio space in Hood building, 4th Avenue North, Birmingham
Holds solo exhibition in 4th Avenue studio featuring 40 paintings bearing titles such as Village Creek in December, Pines near Osceola, Sycamore on Village Creek, Grey Day in Edgewood, and Twenty-first Street North: Catalogue, Exhibition of Paintings Around Birmingham by Carrie Hill, 1913, Hill Family Papers, Birmingham Public Library Department of Archives and Manuscripts
Serves as vice president of the Birmingham Art League
Carrie's mother Nancy Rebecca Vance Hill dies; buried in Elmwood Cemetery, Birmingham
Moves into Studio Arts Building, Five Points South (built in 1910) and made this her home and workplace for the next 47 years
Exhibits a painting, Early Spring, in Charleston and joins the Southern States Art League
Takes first European trip with American Impressionist George Elmer Brown, the teacher that had the most impact on her work; paints in France, along the Mediterranean coast, the Baleric Islands, and Morocco
Studies at George Elmer Browne’s West End School of Art in Provincetown, Massachusetts; paints 40 canvases
Serves as president of the Birmingham Art Club
A 1923 Painting, The Hillside (Provincetown), now in the collection of the Birmingham Public Library, is accepted for the 36th annual exhibit of American Painters and Sculptors at the Art Institute of Chicago. The painting also was chosen for the cover of the December 8, 1923, edition of The Art News magazine. Inside the magazine the heading identified the work as “An Inviting Landscape by an Alabama Woman Artist.” The magazine notes: “This work by an Alabama artist is delightful in color and is filled with the atmosphere of the countryside. It is one of the much admired works of the exhibition.” The piece was later included the Southern States Art League Circuit Exhibition.
Birmingham Art Club and the Southern Club host an exhibit of George Elmer Browne’s work; Browne and his wife attend opening reception which was attended by 400 people.
In May, the Birmingham Art Club purchases George Elmer Browne’s The Loggers (Birmingham Public Library collection) as a impetus for establishing a museum in Birmingham. The artist reduced the asking price of $3500 to $2500 as a special concession to his Southern friends and conducted a month-long workshop for local artists at Carrie’s Five Points studio.
During the summer Carrie makes second painting trip to Europe with George Elmer Browne; itinerary included 3 weeks in Concarneau, in Brittany, and a week in Douarnedez before painting in southern France, Spain, and Morocco.
That winter establishes or expands the Carrie Hill school of Art in her studio in Five Points South

Two paintings accepted for a juried show with the Philadelphia Art Club; Little Chapel in Cahors wins gold medal in the Mississippi Arts Association juried exhibition

Exhibited Brooklyn Museum of Art, Flowers (Jonquils-Linn Collection-label on frame) and Bridge [in Spain] (Birmingham Public Library Collection), and Summer Afternoon (Pines-Linn Collection-label on frame) National Academy of Women Painters and Sculptors show, Brooklyn, Museum of Art (04/17/1926-05/23/1926 [N242 U5 N19])
In February exhibits at Babcock Galleries, New York City, In the Valley of the Lot, A Little Chapel in Cahors, and The Roofs of Laroque-des-Arcs. Babcock Art Galleries Exhibition Program, February 1926, Hill Family Papers, Birmingham Public Library Archives
Three large paintings occupy place of honor in 5th annual Southern States Art League show in St. Petersburg, Florida, flower study wins first prize for flower paintings in Nashville Art Association exhibition; another painting displayed in the National Academy of Design in New York
Makes final trip to Europe with George Elmer Browne group; this six-month sojourn included stops in Paris, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Corsica, and Tunis.
Birmingham Art Club purchases a Carrie Hill painting for $575
Two paintings La Petite Maison (Yarborough Collection) and Village en Corse (Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts) exhibited in the Paris Spring Salon (the Exposition des Beaux Arts de la Grand Palais des Champs Elysee), Catalogue, The 1928 Annual Exhibition of the Society of French Artists, the 141 th Official Exhibition of the Fine Arts, Grand Palais, Paris. Hill Family Papers, Birmingham Public Library Archives
Exhibited Eglise de Perse, Espalion 1927, National Association of Women Painters & Sculptors, Brooklyn Museum of Art (04/09/1928-05/07/1928 [N242 U5 N19])
Old Mill at Mountain Brook (Collins Collection), oil on canvas, 34 x 38", exhibited on the Southern States Art League Circuit
The senior class of Woodlawn High School in Birmingham raise money to buy Alabama Pines; donates it to the school
Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts celebrates first anniversary with an exhibit of 36 of Carrie’s paintings
Village en Corse (Village in Corsica – exhibited at 1928 Paris Salon), oil on canvas, 29 1/4 x 29 1/4", presented to the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts in conjunction with the first annual convention of the Alabama Art League and a display of the "Circuit A" exhibition of the Southern States Art League
Judson College hosts an exhibition of 40 paintings, which includes flower pieces
Shades Valley Farm wins Southern Landscape Prize in the Southern States Art League annual juried exhibition and travels in the Southern States Art League 11th Circuit Exhibition to Birmingham, Nashville, Montgomery, and New Orleans
A 1933 oil on canvas, 33 1/4 x 27 ½, wins certificate of merit in the Alabama Art League juried show; purchased by the Garden Club of Montgomery for the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts
Shortly after Carrie’s 60th birthday, the Birmingham Age Herald honored her with “its orchid of achievement” for her work as an artist: “To one who knows beauty and is able to record with sure touch…Miss Carrie Alabama Pines Hill…has long been recording the people, the life and the scenes of Alabama in pencil, crayon, water color and oil. To others she has given of her knowledge to help nurture the spark of genius to bring distinction to herself and her community. (Pettersen Marzoni, “Friday in Birmingham,” Birmingham News-Age Herald, 14 June 1935, vertical files, Bham-Artists-Hill, Birmingham Public Library Archives)
One of four Alabama artists and the only woman to receive assignments from the Public Works of Art Projects Division of the Public Works Administration; she completes two murals, a number of easel paintings of industrial and other scenes around Birmingham, and taught government-sponsored art classes
Completes Mother Goose Mural in East Lake Branch of the Birmingham Public Library, as part of WPA grant: the East Lake mural, restored to its 1937 appearance in 1993 with a grant provided by the City of Birmingham, showed the Pied Piper, Little Red Riding Hood, Old King Cole, Little Bo Peep, and other Mother Goose characters dancing from the pages of an open book; also does a mural of the Pied Piper in Jasper school, which has been destroyed
Governor Bibb Graves appoints Carrie a member of the Alabama Art Commission
Last major solo show with 12 paintings displayed at the Birmingham Junior League shop
Birmingham Public Library holds an exhibition of work by Carrie, Eleanor Bridges, Hannah Elliott, and Louise Cone
1940s - 1950s
Carrie continues teaching art, becomes a strong advocate for establishing an art museum in Birmingham, which was opened in 1951 in the Birmingham City Hall, with Carrie in attendance
(September 24, 1957) Carrie dies and is buried in Elmwood Cemetery, in Birmingham, alongside her mother and father
East Lake Library Mother Goose Mural restored by the city of Birmingham
Birmingham Public Library hosts a retrospective exhibit of Carrie Hill’s works at the Library
Birmingham Historical Society publishes Art of the New South: Women Artists of Birmingham 1890-1950 by Vicki Leigh Ingham, which includes a section on Carrie with many photographs of her work, along with seven other prominent Birmingham artists
Birmingham Historical Society hosts an exhibit of works of these eight artists at the Birmingham Public Library gallery


Membership in Organizations

Birmingham Art Club
Alabama Art League
Mississippi Art Association
Southern States Art League
National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors
Provincetown Art Association
Alabama Art Commission


Archival Resources: Biography: Birmingham Library Archives

Emond, Burgin, And Hill Families
Papers, 1843-1957


"Robert T. Emond, progenitor of the family in Elyton, Alabama, was a native of South Carolina who moved to Jones Valley in the early 1840s. In November 1843 he married Minerva Camp and settled in Elyton. While Minerva remained at home with the couple's seven children, Robert traveled through Central Alabama and Mississippi working as a home contractor. One of the Emond daughters, Jane, married James L. Burgin of Compton, Jefferson County. Their daughter Natalie (Neat) Burgin married Robert Ernest Hill of Birmingham in 1901. Robert Hill's sister Carrie Hill was a prominent Alabama artist in the early to mid 20th century. Born in Bibb County, Carrie Hill moved to Jefferson County with her family in the 1880s. Upon completing her education, she spent the 1920s traveling through Europe painting. Returning to this country, Carrie Hill established a studio in the Five Points South section of Birmingham. She divided her time between painting and teaching until her death in 1957."

Scope and Content:

"This collection includes correspondence, newspaper clippings, photographs, legal and financial records, and family memorabilia. The letters were written between the early 1840s and the mid 1920s and discuss personal matters and current events. Some letters touch on events during the Civil War. There are several letters from Edwin Hill while he was stationed in Cuba during the Spanish-American War. Neat Burgin wrote home about her experiences while visiting Chicago in 1899 and 1900. Also included are courtship letters from Lee Merrill of Chicago to Dolly Burgin of Birmingham dated 1896, courtship letters between Ernest Hill and Neat Burgin dated 1899 to 1900, a 1923 diary written by Janie Hill while a student at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, and a sketch book and European trip diary belonging to Carrie Hill. The subject files on Carrie Hill contain biographical information, a diary, a scrapbook, correspondence, exhibition catalogs, newspaper clippings, a paint box, and other items."

Guide to Collection:

File level guide available in the Archives Department.

Subject Areas:

Artists -- Alabama -- Birmingham.
Burgin Family.
Burgin, James L. Courtship.
Dating (Social customs).
Diaries. Elyton (Ala.) -- History.
Emond Family.
Emond, Robert T.
Hill, Carrie L.
Hill Family.
Hill, Robert E.
Spanish-American War, 1898.
Women -- Alabama -- Birmingham.

Collection Number: 112

Size: 5 linear feet (5 boxes)

Restrictions: Standard preservation and copyright restrictions.


Carrie Hill Portrait

Carrie Hill Portrait

1890's, Emond, Burgin & Hill papers, Birmingham Public Library Archives 112.6.2. Photograph copyright of the artist/assignee.


Carrie Hill and Mrs. Raulston at Afternoon Tea

Carrie Hill and MRs. Raulston at Tea

1909 black and white photograph (6" wide X 4 1/2"). Carrie Hill [left] and Mrs. Raulston seated with afternoon tea in their Birmingham art studio. Carrie held afternoon teas to show her work. Photo reproduced in Ingham's book, Art of the New South [p.45]. This photo is now owned by the Birmingham Public Library Archives 112.6.6a. Photograph copyright of the artist/assignee.


Carrie Hill Painting in her Birmingham Studio

Painting in Studio

Photograph copyright of the artist/assignee.


Carrie Hill at the Seashore

Painting at the Seashore

Early 1900's black and white photograph (5" wide X 4 1/2"). Description: Carrie Hill painting with brush and easel at a Florida beach. sitting on a crate and protected from the sun under an umbrella. Photo reproduced in Ingham's book, Art of the New South [p.47]. Photograph copyright of the artist/assignee.


Carrie Hill Portrait

1923 portrait

1923 portrait, published in the Alabama Blue Book and Social Register in 1929. Birmingham Public Library Tutwiler Collection of Southern History. Photograph copyright of the artist/assignee.


George Elmer Browne's European Painting Group

European Painting Group

Black and white photograph, June 1927, taken in Espalion, France. Mr. and Mrs. Browne, front center with hats; Sylvia Pizitz, front row, second from left; Carrie Hill, second row, third from left; Della Dryer, middle row, second from right; Willie McLaughlin, to left of Della. Photo reproduced in Ingham's book, Art of the New South [p.68]. Photograph copyright of the artist/assignee.


Postcard from Carrie Hill, signed 'Sister'


Photograph copyright of the artist/assignee.



Photograph copyright of the artist/assignee.


Carrie occasionally painted plates and vases to generate income for her travels.

Vase with Pink Roses

Early 1900's, 14" high, collection the Birmingham Museum of Art. Artwork images are copyright of the artist/assignee.



Art of the New South

Source: Birmingham Historical Society

book cover

"You can curl up and read Art of the New South: Women Artists of Birmingham, 1890-1950 (paper $29.95, cloth $39.95) like a good novel. The 204-page telling of the stories behind eight memorable artists details not only the cultural scene emerging with the founding of Birmingham, but also depicts each woman's personal expression and journey to her art.
The book, produced by the Birmingham Historical Society, starts with the story of Caroline Lovell, a bright, innovative pioneer, known for staging tableaux vivant (paintings come to life by players in costume). Having studied in New York, she returned to the newly formed Birmingham to paint watercolors and miniatures, and to lead the young city's social scene.

You also read about the adventurous Lucille Douglass. "She must've been an extraordinary extrovert," says Marjorie White, Birmingham Historical Society Director. "She traveled to Europe, became an etcher, went on an international lecture circuit, and left her legacy, a collection of her finest art, to the Metropolitan Museum of Art." The worlds, told by writer Vickie Ingham, go on to cover accounts of Lucille's journeys to China and Cambodia, where she illustrated travel books and depicted ancient ruins.

Each woman emerges a personality--and a shaper of the growing Birmingham and its arts identity. As members of the Birmingham Art Club (established in 1907 by Della Dryer and others), the painters deftly rendered their works, traveled widely to study at noted academies, shared their learnings back home, and generally instilled in locals (and beyond) a dignity of art as a calling for female achievers. "Born in the years following the Civil War--when women were expected to follow traditional paths--these were professional artists," says White. "They were not dilettantes--most did not marry and spent a lifetime as successful artists."

In all, Art of the New South tells of Birmingham's Carrie Hill, Lucille Douglass, Alice Rumph, Della Dryer, Hannah Elliott, Caroline Lovell, Carrie Montgomery, and Willie McLaughlin. "Except for archival records and family collections, little is known of these women today," continues White. "We pieced together their lives from the available material and watched as a portrait of early Birmingham and eight incredible women took shape."

Copyright 2004 Birmingham Historical Society

ISBN: 0-943994-29-2 (hardcover)

ISBN: 0-943994-30-6 (softcover)



See period articles about Carrie's artist friends, John MacKenzie and Lucille Douglass. See also an article about Vicki Ingham's book, The Birmingham Museum of Art: A Civilizing Spirit.



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© Artist Carrie Hill. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED