Thomas Jones – The Berger Collection, hosted at the Denver Art Museum. A View of Certosa di San Martino with the Castel Sant’ Elmo, Naples (1782-1783)
Materials: oil on canvas. Dimensions: 44.5 x 85.7 cm. Acquistion date: 1997 (U.S.; Sotheby’s, New York, January 30, 1997, lot 167). Source: http://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%A4%D0%B0%D0%B9%D0%
Thomas Jones traveled to Italy in 1776, remaining for seven years, mainly dividing his time between Naples and Rome. He loved Naples in particular and painted its distinctive skyline repeatedly. He was especially interested in capturing the effect of sunlight on the lastricia, or flat roofs, of the city’s buildings. Jones sought out lodgings with a good view over the city. In May 1782, he finally found a small room: “in a little convent adjoining, called the Capella Vecchia, situated in the Borgo of the Chaja & very near Sr W’m Hamilton’s palace….The only window it had, looked into a small garden, and over a part of the suburbs, particularly the Capella Nuova, another convent the Porta di Chaja, Palace of villa Franca and part of the Hill of Pusillipo, with the Castle of St. Elmo & convent of St. Martino &c. all of which objects, I did not omit making finished studies of in oil upon primed paper.”
Jones’s description of the view from his room in the convent is close to that seen here. He probably painted this picture from an oil-on-paper sketch he had executed from the Capella Vecchia window (http://www.bergercollection.org/?id=5&artwork_id=110).
Materials: Oil on paper laid on canvas. Dimensions: 11.4 x 16 cm. Acquisition date: 1993. Nr: NG6544. Source: http://www.spamula.net/blog/i07/jones4.jpg
The subject is a wall, pitted with scaffolding holes and apparently stained with the passage of water to the left of the balcony.
It is one of a series of remarkable and original plein-air oil sketches on paper, produced by Jones while living in Naples. Like his other views, it has the appearance of an image observed and recorded from the window or roof of his lodgings. Although the French artist Claude-Joseph Vernet advocated making direct compositional sketches in the open air, for an 18th-century artist to entirely dispense with the usual compositional props of the conventional classical landscape was highly unusual. In doing so, Jones introduced new possibilities for landscape depiction, which would be thoroughly explored and developed in the following century (http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/thomas-jones-a-wall-in-naples).