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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Owen Jones

Dates:  1819 - 1905
Active:  UK

Preparing biographies

Approved biography for Owen Jones
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, USA)

The exuberant chromolithographed cover of Talbotís The Pencil of Nature is unmistakably the work of Owen Jones. On a Grand Tour made after completing his architectural studies, Jones was deeply moved by the architecture of Islam and devoted six months to studying the Alhambra. In 1834 he began preparing a lavish publication on this complex architectural masterpiece and was quickly frustrated by the limitations of the existing color printing technology. Therefore, he mastered chromolithography and color block printing, producing many of the plates in the book, which was issued between 1836 and 1845. Other works followed, none more influential than his 1856 The Grammar of Ornament. Jones was responsible for the controversial but highly successful interior of the Crystal Palace for the Great Exhibition of 1851, one of the first industrial applications of color theory. Not surprisingly he took an interest in photography, but very little is known about his efforts in this area, for later in his career his design style fell out of favor and his widow disposed of his estate. Jones contributed six photographs to the 1856 exhibition of the Norwich Photographic Society: five collodion views of colleges in Cambridge and a waxed-paper study of the New Bridge at St. Johnís College, almost certainly indicators of a much more substantial photographic output. 
Roger Taylor & Larry J. Schaaf Impressed by Light: British Photographs from Paper Negatives, 1840-1860 (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2007) 
This biography is courtesy and copyright of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is included here with permission. 
Date last updated: 4 Nov 2012. 
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