Index of Historic Collectors and Dealers of Cubism
Jones, T. Catesby
Petersburg, Va., 1880–New York, 1946

T. Catesby Jones was an early American collector of Cubism, whose bequest in 1947 to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Virginia, formed the core of the museum’s French modern art collection.

A native of Virginia, T. Catesby Jones moved to New York to practice admiralty law in 1911. He began visiting galleries and exhibitions during the 1910s (including the Armory Show in 1913), encountering works of Impressionism and early examples of European and American modernism for the first time. In the summer of 1924, Jones made the first of six trips to Paris. Unable to afford the works of the Impressionists, he opted to purchase small-scale paintings and drawings by Matisse, Picasso, Georges Braque, André Lhote, and Juan Gris, some of which he saw at the Salon des Tuileries. Jones was particularly drawn to works by Fauve and Cubist artists, whose work demonstrated to him a deep understanding of the dynamism and challenges of contemporary social life. While close artist friends Jacques Lipchitz, André Masson, and Jean Lurçat, and Paris-based gallery owner Jeanne Bucher advised on Jones’ expanding collection, it was New York dealers Pierre Matisse, Valentine Dudensing, and Curt Valentin who would help Jones acquire a significant collection of Cubist paintings, gouaches, and etchings throughout the 1920s and 1930s. At the height of his activity in the early 1930s, Jones’s collection, which was displayed in his home on East 92nd Street, New York, numbered roughly three hundred works, including Juan Gris’ Carafe, Glass, and Packet of Tobacco and Picasso’s Still Life, Wine Glass and Newspaper (both 1914; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond).

Jones regularly lent objects from his personal collection to exhibitions, especially at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, including Paintings in Paris from American Collections in 1930; Cubism and Abstract Art in 1936; and Picasso: Forty Years of His Art in 1939. Upon his death in 1946, Jones bequeathed his collection of paintings, sculptures, drawings, and textiles to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Although the VMFA had opened in 1936, its holdings of twentieth-century European art only included one work prior to Jones’ bequest: André Derain’s Woman’s Head (undated, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond). The first exhibition of the T. Catesby Jones collection took place at the Museum in 1948. It contained ninety-eight works, and the catalogue included unpublished excerpts of Jones’ writings on his collection (which had also been left to the museum). Additionally, Jones’ collection of prints and illustrated books were given to the University of Virginia Museum of Art (now the Fralin Museum) in Charlottesville. These gifts created the largest public collection of Cubist art in the mid-Atlantic at the time.

Contributed by Rachel Boate, August 2017
For more information, see:

Jones, T. Catesby. Modern French Prints: An Address Delivered on October 19, 1944 at the Grolier Club of New York. New York: Court Press, 1944.

Matisse, Picasso, and Modern Art in Paris: The T. Catesby Jones Collections at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the University of Virginia Art Museum, edited by Matthew Affron, John B. Ravenal, and Emily H. Smith. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2009.

The T. Catesby Jones Collection. Richmond: The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 1948.