Saturday, March 13, 2010

Venice Pastel

The Venice pastel.

A while back I promised to write more about Thomas Jones, the Welshman who had a year of painting genius in Naples. The year was 1782. In his published lecture, The Originality of Thomas Jones, Lawrence Gowing writes that Jones was unsuccessful in trying to become a painter of the sublime landscape. In other words, he failed in following tried and tired formulas, not only in the pictures he made, but also in their reception by others. Consequently he was pushed to dare to paint what he saw. In 1782 in Naples, he went out on the rooftops of his various apartments, and painted other rooftops, and building facades, and sky and clouds. The results still have the raw power of pure and immediate vision. For example, look at A Wall in Naples, or House in Naples. The picture plane, the building facade, and the painting's surface coincide. These pictures are also very small. A Wall in Naples is approximately 5x6 inches! The book by Wollheim that I mentioned earlier claims that Jones "metaphorize[s] the body". It's a tenuous claim that may arise from the sort of Zen vision that Jones was experiencing at the time where he was able to see and paint exactly what he saw with a powerful and unfiltered immediacy, sort of the way we think a baby would look at things. The Jones 1782 paintings were virtually unknown until the early 1950's.


loriann said...

you have created a beautiful kind of tension between the colors of the foreground and the colors in the distance.

Bob Lafond said...

Loriann, thank you.