Sculptor and painter, born in Ludlow, Shropshire. Dissuaded by his father from becoming an artist, he followed his father’s profession, training as a veterinary surgeon and qualifying at the Royal Veterinary College in 1866. In 1867, he was gazetted to the Royal Horse Artillery, serving for 24 years, mostly abroad, in Ireland, India, Abyssinia, Egypt and South Africa. Jones sketched and painted in these years, but it was not until 1882 that he took up sculpture, persuaded by a new friend, the sculptor Charles Bell Birch, that, with his innate artistic sense and profound knowledge of equine anatomy, he should take up sculpture. In 1884, after some informal training with Birch, Jones achieved his first success with his showing at the RA of an equine plaster statuette, A Hunter, one of the right sort. In 1887, his bronze group, Gone Away, won first prize in the Goldsmiths’ Company’s competition (RA 1887). In 1891, he retired from the army, by which time he was living with his wife and son at 147 Church Street, Chelsea, next door to the Chelsea Arts Club, of which he became a member and, in 1906–08, chairman. In 1918, Jones was elected a member of the RBS and in 1935 awarded the society’s Gold Medal. His ambition to be elected to the RA was never to be fulfilled, despite his being nominated several times. Jones’s bitterness is clear in his Memoirs of a Soldier Artist (1933). He felt that his lack of formal training had not only led to his not being taken seriously by the art establishment, but that his detractors spread rumours that he used formally trained sculptors to ‘ghost’ his work, an accusation he devoted a large part of his autobiography to repudiating. His earliest commissions were mostly received through the influence of his military friends and the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII), who greatly admired his work. His principal public commissions were war memorials – Royal Marines, 1903, The Mall, London; Gloucestershire Yeomanry, 1922, College Green, Gloucester; the Cavalry of the Empire, 1924, Hyde Park; and Peace Memorial, 1924, Uxbridge; and equestrian statues – General Sir Redvers Buller, 1905, Exeter, and the Duke of Cambridge, 1907, Whitehall. His magnum opus, however, was his Peace Quadriga, 1912, for Constitution Arch, Hyde Park Corner, his hopes for a major unveiling ceremony (and perhaps even a knighthood) dashed by the death of his great advocate, King Edward VII, in 1910. Jones died at home in Chelsea aged ninety-two.
Bibliography: R.S. Burns, Triumph: the life and art of Captain Adrian Jones, 2010, Almeley, Herefordshire, 2010; T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Kensington and Chelsea with Westminster South-West, Watford, 2023, pp. 6–8, 303–08; R. Cocke, Public Sculpture of Norfolk and Suffolk, Liverpool, 2013, pp. 141–42; S. Crellin, ‘Jones, Adrian (1845–1938)’, ODNB, Oxford, 2004; A. Jones, Memoirs of a Soldier Artist, London, 1933; F. Lloyd et al, Public Sculpture of Outer South and West London, Liverpool, 2011, pp. 97–98; Mapping Sculpture; G.T. Noszlopy and F. Waterhouse, Public Sculpture of Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire, Liverpool, 2010, pp. 65–66; P. Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of Historic Westminster. Volume 1, Liverpool, 2011, pp. 92–94, 134–36, 413–15.
Terry Cavanagh November 2022
Adrian Jones, c. 1918 (photo: public domain)