Tristram Hillier’s early life encompassed China, rural Somerset and 1920s Paris

This section features three paintings dating from the 1930s – click through the gallery below to explore

When Hillier was six months old his mother brought him back to England from Peking together with his brother and sisters. At the age of nine he became a boarder at Downside, the Roman Catholic school in Somerset, then spent two unfulfilling years at Cambridge University. 

After his father died in 1924, Hillier decided to give up a conventional career. Instead he enrolled at the Slade School of Fine Art in London. He became a brilliant draughtsman and in 1927 moved to Paris. There he embraced the work of Europe’s leading avant-garde artists.

In 1931 Hillier married Irene ‘Georgiana’ Hodgkins. She gave birth to their twin sons the following year in the Gascony castle that had become their home.