A painter in oils, watercolour, tempera and acrylics, also a draughtsman and etcher, Clifford Hall was born in Wandsworth, London, and grew up in Richmond. As a pupil at King’s College School, Wimbledon, his gift for drawing and painting was evident from an early age. At the age of 17, he began evening classes in design drawing at Richmond Art School. From there he went to the Putney School of Art where he attended classes in life drawing and painting with John Bowyer, George Morrow and Stanley Anderson. A few years later he gained entrance to the Royal Academy Schools where he studied from 1925 to 1927 under Charles Sims, Ernest Jackson and George Clausen, and also, for a few months, with Walter Sickert.
During his time at the RA Schools, Hall started receiving portrait commissions and was awarded the Landseer Scholarship in painting. This enabled him to set up as a professional portrait painter with a studio in Twickenham. However, encouraged by his friend Edwin John, the son of Augustus, early in 1928 he left England for Paris. Sharing a studio in the Parisian suburb of Malakoff he and Edwin went to draw in the cours libre at The Académie de la Grande Chaumière several times a week, and briefly attended classes at André Lhote's studio near the Gare Montparnasse. Among the many people Hall met in Paris was the Manchester-born artist Rowley Smart, and they became friends until Smart’s death in 1934. They spent much time painting together in Paris and later in Moret-sur-Loing.
Throughout most of the mid-twentieth century, apart from occasional sojourns in Continental Europe and a few tours with a travelling circus, Hall lived and worked in London in various studios in Chelsea. Whilst there he often struggled financially but never stopped working, not even during the Blitz when he served as a stretcher-bearer for the ARP while continuing to paint and draw on his days off.
In 1933 he married his first wife, Marion, and in 1939 they had a son, Julian. A few years after divorcing Marion he married his second wife in 1956, the artist Ann Hewson, who had been one of his students at the Regent Street Polytechnic School of Art. They had one child and moved from Chelsea in 1961 to a house in Bayswater with a studio in the back garden.
Hall’s first solo show was held in 1929 at the St Martin's Gallery, London. In the early 1930s, he began a long professional association with the art dealer Lillian Browse and had four more shows in the West End of London: three at the Leger Gallery and one at Helen Lessore's Beaux Arts. Four exhibitions followed in the 1940s: one at the Leger during the Second World War and three after the war at Roland, Browse & Delbanco. Following a show of his drawings at the Leicester Gallery in 1952, and a rift with Lillian Browse, he struggled for many years to find another West End dealer until Anthony d'Offay Fine Art held an exhibition of his seaside paintings in 1967. Two more West End shows, one at the Ansdell and the other at the Hamet, took place before his death on Christmas Day 1973.
Clifford Hall’s memorial exhibition was held at the Belgrave Gallery in 1977. His work is represented in a number of UK public collections including the Imperial War Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the University of Hull Art Collection and the Arts Council Collection, and abroad at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne and the Brooklyn Museum, New York.