John Jones was a businessman who in 1882 left his large collection of fine and decorative arts to the Museum ‘for the benefit of the nation’. This generous gift now forms the foundation of the 18th-century French decorative arts collections in the Europe 1600-1815 galleries. Other objects from his collection can be found throughout the V&A.
There is a display about John Jones in Room 2A as part the Europe 1600-1815 Galleries on Level 0 of the V&A
In Jones’s time, it was fashionable to collect French fine and decorative art of the 18th century. Objects with historical, royal and aristocratic associations were especially prized. In his London house, Jones arranged his collection carefully, often grouping objects by maker, period, medium, style or historical association. When his collections entered the Museum, the importance of recording Jones’s arrangement was immediately recognised. In 1883, the Museum published a handbook illustrating the contents of the house, which was considered crowded, even by Victorian standards.
In total, John Jones’ bequest comprised 1034 objects (excluding the books). This included 105 paintings, 137 miniatures, 147 pieces of porcelain, 52 bronzes and gilt-bronze objects, 135 pieces of furniture, 109 sculptures, and 313 prints. His collection of books, which numbered around 780 volumes, included the first three Shakespeare folios.
The Jones collection consists mostly of 18th-century European art and decorative arts. The bequest also included some 18th-century Indian furniture, as well as 19th-century furniture and paintings.