Thomas Hill was born in 1829 and moved to the U.S in 1844. He worked as a decorative painter until his move to Boston in 1847. A few years later, in 1853, Hill moved to Philadelphia and took up portrait and floral painting. There he attended The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art. From 1861-66, Hill moved to San Francisco where he created his most well known pieces of grandiose landscapes. In 1874 he helped found the San Francisco School of Design. Hill had nineteen illustrations published in John Muir's "Picturesque California", which depicted panoramic views of the Yosemite Valley. Hill's best known painting, "Driving the Last Spike", showed the completion of the Union-Pacific Railroad. He worked at an astounding speed to turn out canvases. In 1898 Hill was paralyzed and died by suicide in 1908.