Book review: Triumph: The Life and Art of Captain Adrian Jones

PUBLISHED: 16:34 25 January 2011 | UPDATED: 20:33 20 February 2013

Book review: Triumph: The Life and Art of Captain Adrian Jones

Book review: Triumph: The Life and Art of Captain Adrian Jones

A new biography of Shropshire sculptor and painter Adrian Jones is a fitting tribute, says Howard Franklin

The triumphantCaptain Jones

A new biography of Shropshire sculptor and painter Adrian Jones is a fitting tribute, says Howard Franklin

Author Robert S. Burns has chosen a very apt title for this story of one of Shropshires great men. Firstly, the book is named after the Peace Quadriga, which stands aloft the Wellington Arch in London, and secondly it is a triumph of a biography of a true Salopian gentleman.

Triumph: The Life and Art of Captain Adrian Jones was launched in the schoolroom at Palmers Hall in Mill Street, Ludlow, the same room where Adrian Jones studied as a boy, and indeed the building where the author was appointed headmaster of Ludlow Grammar School in 1970. Adrian Jones often reflected upon his education and said his boyhood days were the best worth living. He had a strong affection for the town and commented that Ludlow had never lost her self respect, impressing it upon her residents at all hours of the day and night through the chimes in the belfry of her church.

Adrian Jones was born in Ludlow in 1845, the sixth child and fifth son of James and Jane Brookholding-Jones. His father was a comfortably off veterinary surgeon, and this was the career Adrian was to follow. After graduating from veterinary college he served for 24 years as an army officer, with postings to a series of important cavalry regiments, and fought in three wars, including being with the strike force at the storming of Magdala during the Abyssinian conflict. He went on to become one of the most remarkable artists in British history, even though he never studied at a school of art. As a veterinary surgeon, his understanding of animal anatomy and detailed craftsmanship made him the nations leading equine artist and sculptor, often commissioned to paint or sculpt the Derby and Grand National winners.

He created Europes largest bronze statue, the iconic Angel of Peace, arresting the Chariot of War, which dominates the Wellington Arch at Londons Hyde Park Corner. Contemporary critics have often compared his work to that of Cellini, as a craftsman and master of detail. The Peace Quadriga was restored and conserved by English Heritage in the year 2000, at a cost of 1.5 million.

Joness works appealed especially to the general public and unveilings of his statues in both England and Australia attracted crowds of tens of thousands of spectators. The dedication of his Cavalry Memorial, at Stanhope Gate, London on the 21st of May 1924, was an event unique in the annals of the British Empire, with representatives of every cavalry regiment in the Empire on parade. This statue of St George now stands beside the Serpentine Way in Hyde Park. His bronze of a Kings Shropshire Light Infantry Tommy at Bridgnorth War Memorial in Castle Gardens was unveiled in 1922, This book expands on the story already told in Captain Adrian Joness too brief and modest memoirs written in the 1930s. Robert S. Burns gives an illuminating and vivid account of his varied and adventurous life and his huge artistic achievements. The author has been able to draw upon sources never previously published, especially Joness personal collection of studio photographs which show the development of his many ideas. He has had access to the family archives and to the Sladmore Gallery, which held the 1984 retrospective exhibition.

The book runs to 304 pages and contains 60 colour and 110 black and white illustrations. Adrian Jones received a telegram from His Majesty King George V on his 90th birthday. His son and grandson, both named after him, inherited his artistic ability. His son became a watercolourist and an etcher with a most decisive and careful style, and his grandson designed scenery and costumes, and later became an architect. Adrian Jones III never married and so the direct line of descendants ended.
Adrian Jones died on the 24th January 1938 aged 92. His obituary described him as, a rural, metropolitan and imperial man, keen horseman, soldier and artist, with qualities of genius, and above all, a likeable and admirable personality. His ashes are buried in the churchyard of St Laurences in Ludlow, just a hundred yards from the place of his birth and close beside the grave of the poet AE Housman, who had died two years previously.

Triumph: The Life and Art of Captain Adrian Jones by Robert S. Burns is published by Logaston Press
ISBN 978 1 906663 44 5.
Price 20.


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