Having first travelled to the Iberian peninsula in 1935, he became inspired by the landscape, architecture and way of life and would use the sketches and photographs he made during his long summer trips to produce meticulously crafted images at his home in Somerset.
An example that appeared at Parker Fine Art Auctions (25% buyer’s premium) in Farnham on September 7 drew significant interest against a £5000-7000 pitch.
The small painting from 1974 depicted the medieval entrance gate to the Castelo de Ouguela in western Portugal, near the boarder with Spain. At least one other Hillier painting of Ouguela is known, an earlier and larger view from 1960s which is now in the Alfred East Art Gallery in Kettering.
This 11 x 9in (28 x 22.8cm) oil on board, which was listed with its full title in the artist’s notebook, had been exhibited at the Pieter Wenning Gallery in South Africa the year after it was painted. It seemingly remained in the country ever since with the Surrey saleroom saying it came to auction from a South African source.
After a bidding battle both on the phone and online it was knocked down at £12,000 to the artist’s grandson who, although he doesn’t “collect” as such, said he “rather liked it” and would like to own more.