Robert Hillingford was born at Clapham, Surrey, in 1825, the first son of an Officer. He was introduced to art at a very young age and by the time he was six he was studying drawing under an English artist in Boulogne where he spent much of his early life. Around 1840, Hillingford went to study at the Academy schools in Dusseldorf, under Karl Ferdinand Sohn, where he continued until 1845 before leaving for Munich. He moved on to many Italian cities including Venice, Florence, Naples, and Rome where he spent in the region of sixteen years here. It was in Rome that Hillingford became a member of the German Artists Club and later met his future wife Chiara. They returned to England in 1864. Hillingford moved to Kensington in the same year, where he continued his work. He exhibited at the British Institute. In 1866 he made his debut at the Royal Academy and continued to exhibit there including the years of until 1902. Hillingford died in Hammersmith in 1904.

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