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John Hilton (1904–1983) was well known for desert landscapes. He painted this Californian landscape for the donor, Louise Taylor-Hansen, who once lived near the area depicted. The complete label for this painting reads: ‘Looking down an old pioneer trail of the “Fortyniners” going to California, who had cut across Nevada and were about to drop into the Coachella Valley. In the distance ahead is the location of what is today Palm Springs, California.’ ‘Fortyniners’ was the nickname given to people who moved to California during the 1848 and 1849 gold rush hoping to make their fortunes there. Those who took the route overland from the east came across the mountains and along the path depicted in this painting.

The Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford



Looking Down an Old Pioneer Trail


oil on wood


H 24.5 x W 32.1 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

gift from Louise Taylor-Hansen, 1967

Work type



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The Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford

South Parks Road, Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 3PP England

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