Thomas Jones

A Scene in the Colosseum, Rome


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Thomas Jones 1742–1803
Oil paint on paper
Support: 432 × 289 mm
Presented by Canon J.H. Adams 1983

Display caption

The archaeological excavation of many sites in Italy during the middle years of the eighteenth century gave people a new sense of the historical significance of the great ruins that had lain largely ignored for centuries. The Colosseum, near the Roman Forum, was now seen as one of the monumental relics of imperial aspiration, and in its ruined state offered painters opportunities to epitomise empire in decay. They relished the grandeur and picturesqueness of a noble and crumbling structure so vast that it dictates the whole composition of the picture.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry


Oil on hand-made laid paper 17 × 11 3/8 (432 × 289), irregularly cut on all four sides
Inscribed ‘No7|A Scene in the Collosseo at Rome|T Jones’ in pencil on back
Presented by Canon J.H. Adams 1982
Prov: By descent from the artist to Canon J.H. Adams, whose great-grandfather Captain John Dale married Thomas Jones's younger daughter Elizabetha
Exh: Thomas Jones, Marble Hill House, Twickenham and National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, June–September 1970 (32); Painting from Nature, Arts Council, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge and RA, November 1980–March 1981 (20, repr.); På Klassick Mark, Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, September–December 1982 (124)

A date of 1777 is suggested for this because a wider view of the Colosseum inscribed ‘View in the Colosseo|9 April 1777’ is included in the artist's sketch-book, ‘bought at Rome 17 February 1777’, in the collection of the British Museum (Department of Prints and Drawings, 1981–5–16–18 f.20). Alternatively, T03546 may have been painted during Jones's first few weeks in Rome; his ‘Memoirs’ (p.53, fully cited under T03544/5) relate that he spent the time between 27 November and 12 December 1776 ‘in visiting the Ruins, Churches and palaces - sometimes in Company and sometimes alone, for I could not always persuade my Country men to attend me to see Sights with which they had already been glutted’.

A work in oil on paper approximately the same size, inscribed ‘No.6’ and ‘A Scene in the Collosseo at Rome’ was presumably executed at the same time as T03456; then in the collection of W.A. Brandt, it was also included in the 1970 Thomas Jones exhibition (31).

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1982-84: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1986

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