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Francis Coates Jones (American painter) 1857 - 1932

Throughout a varied career that embraced mural painting and interior design as well as easel painting, Francis Coates Jones pursued the perennial theme of women and children in intimate settings. Jones was born in Baltimore, son of a successful businessman. Although his older brother, Hugh Bolton Jones (1848–1927), was a landscape painter, Francis demonstrated no interest in art until he went abroad with his brother, in 1876. He first began to draw during a year-long stay at the artists’ colony at Pont-Aven, in the French province of Brittany; he then enrolled at the prestigious Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. With the exception of a six-month trip home to Baltimore, Jones remained in Europe for five years, studying and traveling. After his return to America in 1881, Jones worked for a year in his brother’s studio in New York. He continued to show his work at the National Academy of Design, where he had first exhibited in 1877, and he was elected a member of the more progressive Society of American Artists. After another visit to France, he settled permanently in New York in 1884. Never married, he lived and worked with his brother for most of his career. In the 1890s, Jones undertook magazine illustration and mural painting and taught at the Academy, to which he was elected a full member in 1894. His early work included sentimental images of children at play and domestic scenes of women and children in richly furnished contemporary domestic interiors. He later continued his interest in exquisite decorative objects by designing furnishings for the studio-apartment he shared with his brother. In the 1890s, Jones took up the intimate medium of pastel, a dense stick of powdered pigment, which was enjoying a revival among professional artists. As he began to specialize in decorative groupings of female figures in classical dress, he gradually abandoned any narrative or anecdotal content in favor of generalized evocations of beauty and repose. He eventually dropped historical allusions altogether, focusing on the female model engaged in domestic tasks or at leisure. Jones’s mature work shows the influence of impressionism in its use of distinct strokes of bright color from a pleasing range of pastel hues, attention to the play of light over forms, and contemporary settings. A traditionalist, Jones was particularly active in service to the National Academy. He was an astute financial manager and served as the institution’s treasurer for twenty-two years; he also administered its Henry Ward Ranger Fund, a bequest made for the purchase of contemporary American art for donation to museums. In addition, Jones was a trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and a valued advisor to many institutions. 

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