Ponte Loreto near Nettuno

Thomas Jones (British, Trevonen, Wales 1742–1803 Pencerrig, Wales)
by 1787
Oil on paper, laid down on canvas
13 3/8 x 20 7/8 in. (34 x 53 cm)
Credit Line:
Thaw Collection, Jointly Owned by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Morgan Library & Museum, Gift of Eugene V. Thaw, 2009
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 806
This painting is the definitive visual record of a sketching excursion undertaken on May 1, 1777. Jones’s diary entry for that day recounts how he and a small party descended from the Alban Hills, seen in the background, initially to draw in Civita Lavinia (Lanuvio), the hill town in the middle distance. Narrowly avoiding a scrape with an intemperate dog and a clutch of stone-wielding children, the company followed the road out of town until they reached the ancient Roman bridge seen in the foreground, which they sketched before returning to their "head quarters" in the village of Genzano.
Inscription: Signed and inscribed (lower right, on rocks): PONTE LORETO / near / Nettuno; T. Jones / No. 42
the artist, Pencerrig, near Builth Wells, Radnorshire, Wales (until d. 1803); his daughter, Elizabetha Francesca Jones (later Mrs. John Dale) (1803–d. 1806); her widower, Captain John Dale (1806–d. 1827); his daughter (by a later marriage), Rose Dale (from 1827); by descent to her grandson, Canon J. H. Adams (until 1975; his sale, Sotheby's, London, November 27, 1975, no. 92, as "Ponte Loreto near Nettano"); [Colnaghi, London, from 1975]; [Bruno Meissner, Zollikon, Switzerland, by 1976–78]; Pierre Boissonas, Zürich (from 1978); sale, Christie's, London, June 10, 1999, no. 14, as "View from Ponte Loreto, an antique bridge near Nettuno"; [Artemis Fine Arts, London; sold to Thaw]; Eugene V. Thaw, New York (by 2001–9)
London. Royal Academy. 1787, no. 58 (as "View from Ponte Loreto, an antique bridge near Nettuno," lent by the artist).

Kunsthalle Bremen. "Zurück zur Natur: Die Künstlerkolonie von Barbizon, Ihre Vorgeschichte und ihre Auswirkung," November 6, 1977–January 22, 1978, no. 218 (as "Italienische Landschaft mit Brücke"; lent by Galerie Bruno Meissner, Zollikon).

Paris. Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais. "Paysages d'Italie: Les peintres du plein air (1780–1830)," April 3–July 9, 2001, no. 31 (as "Le Ponte Loreto près du lac de Nemi").

Mantua. Palazzo Te. "Un paese incantato: Italia dipinta da Thomas Jones a Corot," September 3–December 9, 2001, no. 31.

New York. Pierpont Morgan Library. "The Thaw Collection: Master Drawings and Oil Sketches, Acquisitions Since 1994," September 27, 2002–January 19, 2003, no. 64 (as "Ponte Loreto near Nettuno").

Cardiff. National Museum & Gallery. "Thomas Jones (1742–1803): An Artist Rediscovered," May 21–August 10, 2003, no. 151 (as "The Ponte Loreto Close to Lake Nemi").

Manchester. Whitworth Art Gallery. "Thomas Jones (1742–1803): An Artist Rediscovered," August 22–October 26, 2003, no. 151.

National Gallery, London. "Thomas Jones (1742–1803): An Artist Rediscovered," November 12, 2003–February 15, 2004, no. 151.

Shizuoka Prefectural Museum of Art. "The Romantic Prospect: Plein Air Painters, 1780–1850," June 22–August 15, 2004, no. 2 (as "Ponte Loreto near Nettuno").

Sydney. Art Gallery of New South Wales. "Plein-air Painting in Europe, 1780–1850," September 4–October 31, 2004, no. 2.

Melbourne. National Gallery of Victoria. "Plein-air Painting in Europe, 1780–1850," November 19, 2004–January 16, 2005, no. 2.

"Exhibition of Paintings, Sculptures, &c. at the Royal-Academy, Somerset-Place, for the Year 1787." St. James's Chronicle (May 15, 1787), p. [4], calls it "View of Ponte Loretto, an antique Bridge near Nettuno" and states that it is "A bad choice of Nature. The Lines are petite, or frittered into small bits".

Anna Ottani Cavina. Paysages d'Italie: Les peintres du plein air (1780–1830). Exh. cat., Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais. Paris, 2001, pp. 50–51, no. 31, ill. (color), dates it 1777; characterizes the artist's journal entry of May 1, 1777, which includes a description of his visit to Ponte Loreto during his first excursion south of Rome, as one of "une intensité extraordinaire," and describes this sketch as a record of direct observation; concludes that its dimensions are too great for it to have been executed out of doors, allowing, however, that the paint was applied in a fluid and rapid manner consistent with plein-air sketching; illustrates a photograph of the site.

Kathleen Stuart in The Thaw Collection: Master Drawings and Oil Sketches, Acquisitions Since 1994. Exh. cat., Pierpont Morgan Library. New York, 2002, pp. 144–45, no. 64, ill. (color), notes that this is the artist's only known depiction of Ponte Loreto; presents cases arguing both in favor of and against the probability that it was executed, if only partially, on site, taking into account three sketchbook drawings dated April 30, May 1, and May 2, 1777, respectively (British Museum, London, inv. 1981,0516.17.76–78), as well similarities to a painting, "An Excavation of an Antique Building Discovered in a Cava in the Villa Negroni, Rome" (Tate Britain, London, inv. T03544); suggests that the Thaw and Tate paintings may once have belonged to a sketchbook or portfolio, observing that underdrawing is visible in both works.

Timothy Wilcox. Letter to Kathleen Stuart. February 7, 2002 [see Ref. Stuart 2002, p. 144], notes that Jones's "Small British Museum Sketchbook" contains dated drawings made around the time of the artist's visit to Ponte Loreto; suggests that this work may have been begun on site and later completed in oil .

Greg Smith in Thomas Jones (1742–1803): An Artist Rediscovered. Exh. cat., National Museums and Galleries of Wales. New Haven, 2003, p. 72, notes that this was Jones's only exhibited work in 1787, and that its sole notice in the press was negative [Ref. St. James's Chronicle 1787], at a moment when the artist had hoped to attract patronage.

Christopher Riopelle in Thomas Jones (1742–1803): An Artist Rediscovered. Exh. cat., National Museums and Galleries of Wales. New Haven, 2003, pp. 258–59, no. 151, ill. (color), dates it 1780s?; notes the artist's May 1, 1777, description of his visit to Ponte Loreto and concludes that "the present, heavily worked and carefully composed sheet was painted afterwards, based on the sketches made that day".

Charlotte Gere in Plein-Air Painting in Europe, 1780–1850. Exh. cat., Shizuoka Prefectural Museum of Art. Shizuoka, 2004, pp. 34–35, no. 2, ill. (color), states that while the subject and, possibly, the underdrawing, date to Jones's visit to Ponte Loreto, the treatment more closely recalls the artist's highly finished watercolors than his plein-air oil sketches; notes the probability that he worked up other Italian landscapes upon his return to England.

Morena Costantini. "Granet a Villa Aldobrandini." Magici Paesaggi: Immagini di Frascati e dintorni nei libri e nei dipinti dei viaggiatori fra Sette e Ottocento. Quaderni delle Scuderie Aldobrandini 5. Ed. Andreina Fasano. Rome, 2006, pp. 92, 94, fig. 5, states that it was probably based on sketches and watercolors made on site, and that Lanuvio and Genzano are visible in the distance.

Esther Bell. "Catalogue Raisonné of the Thaw Collection." Studying Nature: Oil Sketches from the Thaw Collection. Ed. Jennifer Tonkovich. New York, 2011, p. 131, no. 89, ill. (color), calls it "Ponte Loreto near Nettuno" and states that it was painted by 1787.