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Thomas Jones, 1742–1803, British, active in Italy (1776–83)

The Claudian Aqueduct and Colosseum

Watercolor and graphite with gum on medium, moderately textured, cream wove paper
Sheet: 10 3/4 × 16 1/4 inches (27.3 × 41.3 cm)

Inscribed in graphite, upper left: "2"; in graphite, upper center: "part of the Antique Aquaduct that convey'd water to M. Palatine- | May 1778"; in graphite, center right: "2 the Collosseo-"; in graphite, lower right: "vinyard"

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Drawings & Watercolors
Prints and Drawings
Subject Terms:
amphitheater | aqueduct | arches | architectural subject | Grand Tour | landscape | ruins | trees
Associated Places:
Aqua Claudia | Colosseum | Italy | Lazio | Roma | Rome
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Like the oil sketches on which his modern reputation largely rests, Jones’s watercolors were meant not for sale or public display but for his personal amusement and reference. In his memoirs Jones recorded “making some Drawings in the garden belonging to the English colledge upon Mount Palatine” on 21 May 1778 (Jones, “Memoirs”, p. 72). This watercolor, together with another of a similar view in a private collection (Sumner and Smith, 2003, no. 89), were presumably the drawings made that day. At least Jones would have done the graphite underdrawing on the Palatine. The actual working up of his drawings in watercolor, quite highly finished for sketches done outdoors, may have taken place later. Despite the popular modern conception of Jones as a plein-air artist, derived from his oil sketches, it seems likely that the drawings were not finished on the spot. As Greg Smith has suggested, Jones’s standard practice was probably to draw on site with graphite and add watercolor later (Sumner and Smith, 2003, pp. 185–99). Although the watercolors may lack the plein-air immediacy of the oil sketches—and we may question whether some of the oil sketches may also be less spontaneous creations than they appear—they, nonetheless, have an undeniable sensitivity and delicate beauty.

John Baskett, Paul Mellon's Legacy: a Passion for British Art: Masterpieces from the Yale Center for British Art, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, p. 263, no. 48, pl. 48, N5220 M552 P38 2007 OVERSIZE (YCBA)

Greg Smith, Thomas Jones (1742-1803) : an artist rediscovered, , Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 2003, p. 197, no. 90, pl. no. 90, NJ18 J714 T56 2003 OVERSIZE (YCBA)

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