Jones, Owen (1809-1874) (DNB00)

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JONES, OWEN (1809–1874), architect and ornamental designer, born in Thames Street, London, on 15 Feb. 1809, was the only son of Owen Jones [q. v.], Welsh antiquary. He was sent to the Charterhouse, and afterwards to a private school. At sixteen he became the pupil of L. Vulliamy the architect, and worked with him diligently for six years, studying at the same time at the Royal Academy. ‘He became a good draftsman, but did not master the figure.’ In the autumn of 1830 he went abroad, and visited Paris, Milan, Venice, and Rome. In 1833 he set out for the East, and saw parts of Greece, Alexandria, Cairo, Thebes, and Constantinople. During this eastern journey he was deeply impressed by Arabic form and ornament, and his future work as a designer was thereby greatly influenced. In 1834 he went to Granada, and made numerous drawings of the Alhambra, revisiting the palace in 1837. In 1836 he published the first part of his ‘Plans, Elevations, Sections, and Details of the Alhambra’ (London, 2 vols. fol. 1842–5; another edit. 1847–8). To produce this work (which was not completed till 1845) Jones spared no pains, and sold a Welsh property left him by his father. The work contains 101 coloured plates, chiefly from drawings by himself. Pecuniarily, this fine publication was not successful. In 1851 he was appointed superintendent of the works of the Great Exhibition, and took an active part in decorating and arranging the building. In 1852 he was made joint director of the decoration of the Crystal Palace, and specially designed for it the Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and Alhambra courts. He wrote the description of ‘The Alhambra Court,’ London, 1854, 8vo, and published ‘An Apology for the Colouring of the Greek Court,’ London, 1854, 8vo. In company with Digby Wyatt he visited the continent, and selected and procured casts of works of art for the Crystal Palace. In his later years Jones was much employed in the decoration of private houses. He decorated the palace of the Viceroy of Egypt, and was the architect of St. James's Hall, London. He was an exhibitor at the Royal Academy of various architectural designs: in 1831, the ‘Town Hall, Birmingham;’ in 1840, ‘St. George's Hall, Liverpool;’ in 1845, ‘Mansions in the Queen's Road, Kensington,’ and designs for shop decoration. He received in 1857 the gold medal of the Royal Institute of British Architects (a society of which he was afterwards vice-president); in 1867, the medal of the Paris Exhibition; in 1873, that of the Vienna Exhibition. He died on 19 April 1874 at his house where he had long resided, in Argyll Place, Regent Street, London. He was buried in Kensal Green cemetery.

Jones's forte was interior decoration. He insisted strongly on the decorative importance of colour, declaring that ‘form without colour is like a body without a soul.’ He had much fertility of invention, and by his example and by the publication of his ‘Grammar of Ornament’ and other writings exercised a considerable influence on the designs of English wall-papers, carpets, and furniture. His chief works are: 1. ‘Plans, &c., of the Alhambra’ (see above). 2. ‘Designs for Mosaic and Tesselated Pavements,’ 1842, 4to. 3. ‘The Illuminated Books of the Middle Ages,’ 1844, &c. fol. (with H. N. Humphreys). 4. ‘The Polychromatic Ornament of Italy,’ 1846 (examples of the sixteenth century). 5. ‘An Attempt to define the Principles which should regulate the Employment of Colour in the Decorative Arts,’ 1852, &c. 8vo. 6. ‘The Grammar of Ornament,’ London, 1856, fol. with 100 plates; also, London, 1865, fol. 112 plates. Jones's principal work, containing an exposition of principles and about three thousand characteristic illustrations, coloured. ‘The Athenæum’ (4 April 1857, p. 441) on its appearance described it as ‘beautiful enough to be the horn-book of angels.’ 7. ‘One Thousand and One Initial Letters. Designed and Illuminated by O. J.,’ London, 1864, fol. 8. ‘Seven Hundred and Two Monograms. By O. J.,’ London, 1864, 8vo. 9. ‘Examples of Chinese Ornament’ (with one hundred plates from specimens in the South Kensington Museum, &c.), London, 1867, fol. Jones also issued many illuminated editions, including various books of the Bible (the Psalms, Song of Songs, &c.); the Book of Common Prayer, 1845; Gray's ‘Elegy,’ 1846; the works of Horace, 1849; Moore's ‘Paradise and the Peri,’ 1860; Tennyson's ‘Welcome to Alexandra,’ 1863. The illustrations to Birch's ‘Views on the Nile,’ 1843, fol., were also partly from sketches made by Jones.

[Redgrave's Dict. of Artists of English School; Encycl. Brit.; Athenæum, 25 April 1874, p. 569; Brit. Mus. Cat.; South Kensington Museum Univ. Cat. of Books on Art.]

W. W.