The Art of Anne of Green Gables

Agatha Krzewinski

James Hill had the privilege of being the student and protégé of legendary American illustrator Norman Rockwell (1894 – 1978). Rockwell was famous for his illustrations of American culture and everyday life he had created for The Saturday Evening Post for nearly 5 decades.  Hill worked alongside Rockwell and also created his own covers for the magazine, where Rockwell told Hill that he exemplified his generation through his art work,  just as successfully as the American icon did himself. In 1966 Hill was awarded artist of the year by the Guild of American Artists, and earned two gold medals from the New York Society of Illustrators.

James Hill was sought after in the magazine and advertising industry in New York in the 1950s and 60s. He also created artwork for paperback novels, such as the David Copperfield novels by Charles Dickens, and portraits of prominent figures such as Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, Lady Bird Johnson and many celebrities of the sixties and seventies.  His portrait of Pope John Paul II was commissioned as the official poster for Pope John Paul II’s 1984 cross-Canada tour.

Director Kevin Sullivan first came across Hill’s work on an enormous billboard for an ad campaign for Chargex when it was changing its official name to VISA in the early 1980s. Sullivan fell in love with Hill's work immediately at first sight. He had been struck by the extraordinary ad campaign which was in full homage to Rockwell. The main image of  an elf painting a marionette of himself in Santa's North Pole workshop was sublime.

Sullivan sought out Hill to create the iconic posters for Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel, and together they became collaborators and good friends. Sullivan was also surprised to hear that Hill had also done the cover illustration for the book The Little Immigrants which Sullivan used for research in the making of his films.

Sullivan and Hill would continue to work together for the next 20 years.  Sullivan commissioned 40 other artworks, including more Anne images as well as original works for Sullivan. Hill’s artwork now form a treasure-trove within Sullivan Entertainment’s art collection.

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