The distinctive allegorical etchings of Vernon Hill are all now scarce. His highly evocative work appears to have evolved entirely independently from the trends of his time, although overtones of the mysticism which so influenced Frederick Carter and Austin Osman Spare can be traced in some of his works.
Born in Yorkshire, Vernon Hill was apprenticed to a trade lithographer at the age of thirteen and by the age of twenty-one he was working under the illustrator and poster designer John Hassall. He became a sculptor in wood, ivory and bronze, a draughtsman, lithographer, etcher and engraver. In 1911 Vernon Hill produced his own remarkable series of illustrations for the New Inferno by S. Phillips and these were soon followed by an equally extraordinary group of works for Ballads Weird and Wonderful by R. Chope (1912). All of this early work revealed a sculptor’s understanding of form, combined with a strong feeling for art nouveau design.
Relatively few of Vernon Hill’s etchings are known, as few were ever issued in formal editions. Those which were published during the 1920’s and 1930’s were released in editions which rarely exceeded 25 proof impressions.