Saturday, September 5, 2009

Hugh Bolton Jones

I should begin by saying that we are stumbling through American art history in a rather non academic way. Tonight is a case of that for sure. I did individual post on only a coupe of the Hudson River school painters, and not on several who were far more important than Jones. However I want to fill out this transitional period before I go on to tonalism and into impressionism. Besides you won't see a lot of these in other forums as they are a little hard to find. Thank you to the mystery donor for providing many of these to me, I am grateful.

Hugh Bolton Jones doesn't get his due, in my opinion. He lived from 1848 to 1927 like Moran his career was mostly in the late nineteenth century, although his early career was as a Hudson River school guy. From Baltimore Jones moved to New York city and actually traveled painting with Fredrick Church for a year in Jamaica and the Caribbean.

In the mid 1870's he traveled to Europe and studied there for four years. He returned influenced like many others at that time by the "modern" sensibility of the Barbizon painters. The painting above is an example of where that leads. It is no longer the super clear presentation of a highly detailed actual place. He is presenting a more ordinary scene, that could be almost anywhere. The emotional feeling of the scene is important, recreating the topography of an actual place is not. This moody scene above is a nice example of that. I enjoy the quality of the drawing that Jones brings to his trees and the rough fields he painted.

I don't think you would mistake this for a Hudson river school painting, in fact it foreshadows Metcalf and even John Carlson a little bit I think.

This painting looks to have the same sort of a tonality I was getting the other day with the Gold ocher and black. The drawing is very naturalistic, but of course this is a studio painting.

This one has a real truthful looking set of greens, I think I might find it hard to actually live with, but it does really recall that freshest part of early spring before the new leaves mature into their summer colors. Look at how he has varied the shapes and sizes of all those sky holes. He is doing some really difficult stuff in this painting.

I like the autumn paintings best. they have a lot more color than you would expect from a Barbizon styled picture though. I wonder if this was a real place or whether it was assembled. I guess...........the latter.


Unknown said...

Love his paintings since I first discovered him in a glass case at the Met. The Salmagundi Club has one hanging as you walk downstairs which is good to examine first hand. Thanks for this wonderful post and the one on Thomas Moran, his brother did paintings of NY harbor scenes.

Gregory Becker said...

This guy hails from my neck of the woods or rather what used to be my neck of the woods...Baltimore.
If I had started painting in when I lived there I never would've left. An endless supply of hills and valleys and scenes like the ones you presented.
I always notice something when it comes to shadows and that is how a shape reads that is in both the shadow and light. Sometimes they read so well that you think the shadows are glazed in. I like that look but I dont think this guy does that.
It seems as though the artists that you're presenting are keenly aware of the power of green in their paintings. It's almost as though they want you to have the impression of green...of course aside from the bridge painting.
It makes me wonder if the idea of impressionism was floating around longer than previously thought. Like it was a secret dying to get out.

Philip Koch said...

If my memory is correct (not sure about this) Hugh Bolton Jones attended the Maryland Institute College of Art and may have even graduated from there. Old Hugh can be pretty sharp.

MICA, where I've taught for years does some wonderful things, but institutional memory of its long- past students and faculty isn't one of them. Fortunately they do have a guy now on the payroll researching our history and writing a book,

jeff said...

Wonderful painter, whom I don't think I have ever seen before. Some of his work reminds me of the Danish landscape painter Peder Monsted.
Thanks for posting these.

willek said...

Just great pictures, Stape. Numbers 1, 3, 5, and 6 apprear to be using your NH pallet. Pretty interesting. and look at all those smuggled reds. I think I'll set up a cigar box sketch kit with just those colors and see what happens. Great posts.

Stapleton Kearns said...

My wife and I visited one of her college roomates who lived nwear Boston. In her front hall she had a lovely Hugh Bolton Jones about 18 x 24. She said her neighbor had lent it to them. Neither she or her neighbor had any idea of the value or the quality of the painting.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Some day I will do a post on that. The answer is I think, sort of.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Yes he did study there.He was sharp.You know his brother was also a painter.................Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Jones is more obscure than he should be, but all the ret of the Amrican tonalists are a little under appreciated too.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Please mail me the cigars from that box, rather than throwing them away.Unless they have cellophane on them, then, throw them away.

willek said...

Cigars can kill you and they can cause the sorely missed loss of critical oral structure. Better you should try to get back in good stead with the ducks than to continue on a wayward path with the evil weed.

Stapleton Kearns said...


A woman mat have acumen, but a cigar is a smoke!

Woodward Simons said...

Hugh Bolton Jones has been one of my favorites. I think I first saw his work in American Art Review Magazine.

I also love the work of Olive Parker Black - I believe she studied with HB Jones.

tony damico said...

I agree - immensely talented and vastly underated... similar to Henry Pember Smith. Nice to see that Jones has some fans. I enjoy reading the thought process behind your beautiful paintings!