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Pembroke College JCR Art Collection are delighted to partner with the Jean Jones Estate to present a new exhibition, Jean Jones: In Dialogue with Modern British Painting.

Jones (1927 – 2012), was an English painter who depicted her local surroundings in Oxford, Dartmoor, and London’s Primrose Hill. Her practice, defined by the close observation of the subject in front of her and the use of vivid post-impressionist colour, was designed to express her closeness to, and aesthetic wonder at, the people and places around her. 


This exhibition seeks to reintroduce Oxford to Jean Jones’ vibrant, expressive and poetic landscapes, portraits, still-lifes and self-portraits, whilst positioning her amongst the fabric of Oxford’s notable post-war artistic history. Displayed in dialogue with key works from the Pembroke College JCR Art Collection, the exhibition endeavours to interweave Jones’s artwork into the canon of post-war British art, exploring her artistic influences, subjects and techniques. Alongside a myriad of works by Jones, the exhibition will feature works from our collection by artists including Paul Nash, Patrick Heron, Mary Fedden and John Piper.


It has been just over 40 years since her landmark solo exhibition at the world-renowned Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, so it is fitting that her artwork returns to the city once more. The presentation of Jones' work in Oxford will mark a return to the city where she spent the majority of her life. It was here that Jones became close friends with notable writers and academics, such as J.R.R. Tolkien, William Golding, and Iris Murdoch, the latter of whom predicted that Jones would "one day be as famous as Van Gogh."

Saturday 30 April - Sunday 15 May 2022

​About Jean Jones
Jean Jones (1927 – 2012) was born in London. After leaving school, she briefly attended Saint Martin’s School of Art, London, where she studied under the tutelage of Ruskin Spear. Her father however determined that she should put painting aside and study at Cambridge, and she eventually gave in, matriculating at Girton College, Cambridge, where she read English. 
After leaving Cambridge, she married John Jones, a Fellow of Merton College, Oxford, and later the 38th Oxford Professor of Poetry (1978-83), and took up residence in Oxford at Holywell Cottage on St Cross Road with her new husband. 


In the early 1960s, after reading the letters of Vincent van Gogh, Jones was inspired to resume her study of painting.  Whilst in Oxford Jean and John immersed themselves in the British literacy artistic and academic circles of their time. Jones paintings were then owned by such figures as the author J.R.R. Tolkien, the poet John Heath Stubbs, the novelist and academic Rachel Trickett, the literary agent and publisher Hilary Rubinstein, the historian Harry Pitt, the American author and critic Diana Trilling, the Bishop John Oliver, and academics Andrew Wallace-Hadrill and J.M. Wallace-Hadrill.


Throughout her life, Jones suffered from mental illnesses including bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety. Her difficulties with mental health severely limited the progression of her artistic career, and she was twice sectioned. Despite spending many of her later years in and out of hospitals and clinics, Jones continued to paint and draw, ultimately producing a large, varied and impressive body of work.


Her work was the subject of a 1980 solo exhibition at Oxford's Ashmolean Museum. She also exhibited at the Bear Lane Gallery in Oxford and with the New Grafton and Boundary Galleries. In 1999, Duncan Campbell Contemporary Art held a studio sale of her of work. Plymouth’s newly refurbished museum, The Box, now holds Jones’ 1992 landscape, Dartmoor China Clay, and her work is fast becoming a subject of journalistic and scholarly attention.


About Jean Jones Estate
In 2019 a team led by her grandson made it their mission to reclaim Jones’ place in the history of twentieth-century British art. The Estate has been tasked with preserving her legacy and sharing what is left of her art with the world.  Forging ahead in leaps and bounds, this is the fourth exhibition they have staged of Jones’ work since the inception of the Estate. Previous exhibitions were Jean Jones: Dartmoor’s Forgotten Painter, Brownston Gallery, October 2020; Jean Jones: A Life Uncovered, Brownston Gallery, May 2021; and recently Jean Jones: Painting St. Cross Church, St. Cross Church, February - March 2021; as well as the online exhibition Jean Jones: The Myth of the Tortured Genius – which you can view here


You can find out more about Jones, and the work of the Estate on their website: www.jeanjonesestate.com


Potential buyers of Jones’s work should contact contact@jeanjonesestate.com

Images of artworks by Jean Jones are courtesy of the Jean Jones Estate.