Thomas Jones

Naples: Buildings on a Cliff Top


Not on display

Thomas Jones 1742–1803
Oil paint on paper
Support: 287 × 387 mm
frame: 413 × 510 × 44 mm
Purchased 1986

Display caption

Like his teacher, Richard Wilson, Jones spent seven years in Italy, from 1776 to 1783. During the last three years of his time there he lived in Naples. This study comes from a group of paintings depicting the view from the flat roof (lastricia) of his lodgings from which he could see a ‘great part of the city’ as well as ‘the Rocks, Buildings, & Vineyards about Capo di Monte’. Although Jones is now remembered particularly for these striking oil sketches, such pictures were unusual at the time. His classical training is reflected in the harmony and aesthetic logic that he imposed on the landscape.

Gallery label, April 2007

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Catalogue entry

T04872 Naples: Buildings on a Cliff Top 1782

Oil on hand-made laid paper 287 × 387 (11 1/4 × 15 1/4)
Inscribed ‘Naples 1782 TJ’ in pencil on back
Purchased (Grant-in-Aid) 1986
Prov: The artist's daughter Elizabetha, who married Captain John Dale; thence by descent to their great-grandson, Canon J.H. Adams; his executors, sold Phillips 3 Nov. 1986 (18, repr. in col.) £50,000 bt Leggatt Brothers for Tate Gallery
Exh: Thomas Jones, Marble Hill House, Twickenham, June–Aug., National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, Aug.–Sept. 1970 (66, repr.); Romanticismo: II nuovo sentimento della natura, Palazzo delle Albere, Trento, May–Aug. 1993 (5, repr. in col.)
Lit: [Ed. A.P. Oppé], ‘Memoirs of Thomas Jones’, Walpole Society, vol.32, 1951, p.112; Lawrence Gowing, The Originality of Thomas Jones, 1985, p.50, pl.44; Tate Gallery Report 1986–88, 1988, p.53, repr. (col.)

Jones was already painting oil studies from nature in Wales by the early 1770s, but his most remarkable works of this type date from his years in Italy, 1776–83. This study of the rocky and wooded heights of Capo di Monte was made from the roof of Jones's Neapolitan lodgings, probably during the early summer of 1782. Jones recorded in his ‘Memoirs’ under 8 May 1782 that from 15 May that year until 4 May 1783, he had rented ‘the whole floor of a neat little house newly re-built in... the Vicolo del Canale, which fronts the S'a M'a dela Segola, as you ascend to Capo de Monte - The third floor, which in Naples, is reckoned the genteelest and consequently the dearest being vacant, fell to my lot - and which, with the exclusive Use of the Lastricia, I engaged 'till the 4th of the May following for the very modest Sum of 20 Ducats - From this Lastricia by which Term the flat roofs of the houses in Naples, surrounded by parapet Walls, are Commanded a view over the great part of the City, with the Bay, Mountains of Sorrento & Island of Caproea - on the other Side, the Rocks, Buildings & Vineyards about Capo de Monte - and where I spent many a happy hour in painting from Nature ... It was in this house I may say, that I spent by far the most agreeable part of my Time during my Sojourn in Naples’.

Published in:
Tate Gallery: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions 1986-88, London 1996

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