Also known as
Charles Lloyd Jones,
After early art training from Julian Ashton and D.H. Souter in the late 1890s, Charles Lloyd Jones joined the family retailing business, David Jones, later becoming the firm's managing director. Despite his dedication to his retail career, Jones continued to paint landscape throughout his life, often exhibiting his work with the Society of Artists. Open minded to modern trends in art he was an influential trustee of the Art Gallery of NSW during the mid twentieth century, an important financial backer of 'Art in Australia', and established the David Jones' Art Gallery.
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Charles Lloyd Jones was born in Burwood, New South Wales, on 28 May 1878. The son of Edward Lloyd Jones and Helen Ann, née Jones, he was a third generation member of the Sydney based David Jones retailing family. Jones was educated in England and Sydney but showed little academic ability, though he did have an interest in art.
After leaving school, he approached D.H. Souter in order to apprentice himself as a commercial artist, and with Souter he designed posters for the NSW Government Railway. During the late 1890s Jones also studied at Julian Ashton’s art school where fellow students included Sydney Ure Smith, Howard Ashton, George Lambert and Thea Proctor. Ashton later described Jones in his autobiography as a “hard and conscientious worker” (Ashton, 1941, pg. 115).
Jones’ art debut was at the Society of Artists (SOA) 1897 annual show where he exhibited three oils and two poster designs. He continued to exhibit with the SOA in 1898, 1899, 1900 and also at the Commonwealth Art Exhibition in early 1901. After studying with Ashton for five years, he spent two years in London studying art at the Slade School. While in England he also learnt a trade by qualifying as a tailor. According to his Daily Mirror obituary Jones “intended to have one of his pictures hung at the Academy, be elected an R.A. and settle down as a career artist” (30 July 1958, pg. 23). He was unnoticed in London, and returned to Australia via the USA.
Back in Sydney, Jones was persuaded by his elder brother to join the family business. He initially worked as a cutter in the firm’s clothing factory, but by 1905 he had transferred to the David Jones advertising department where he used his artistic training to commercial advantage. In 1906 David Jones became a public company and the artist was appointed director, later becoming chairman in 1920, a management role he maintained until his death.
Jones had an interest in poster design and he collected interesting examples while on overseas business trips. In 1918 he organised the first Australian exhibition of posters from Europe and North America at the NSW Education Department’s gallery to, “show how they could be used as an art gallery for the masses if they were displayed properly on hoardings” (Jones quoted in Artists in Posterland, 1940, pg. 54).
As well as his interest in commercial art, Jones maintained his love of painting after ending his formal art studies. In 1907 he became a foundation member of the (then recently revived) Society of Artists and exhibited eight oils at their first Sydney exhibition. A caricature of Jones by fellow member Harry Julius was illustrated in the catalogue. Julius’s jocular drawing shows the young artist earnestly painting at his easel while sitting on a large bag of money. While never a prolific painter, Jones maintained friendships with many of the SOA artists, and he exhibited intermittently with the Society throughout the rest of his adult life.
Jones was a friend of Sydney Ure Smith and they maintained a close business relationship up to the time of Smith’s death in 1949. When Sydney Ure Smith, Bertram Stevens and Harry Julius established Art in Australia magazine in 1916, Jones became an important financial backer of the project, and he also paid for the publication of Leon Gellert’s Isle of San (1919), which was illustrated by Norman Lindsay. In 1921 Art in Australia Ltd was formally established, its directors being Sydney Ure Smith, Bertram Stevens and Charles Lloyd Jones. In 1939, Jones became chairman and director of Ure Smith Pty Ltd, but he ended his relationship with the firm after Smith’s death in 1952.
While Jones took a back seat role in the management of Art in Australia, he did occasionally contribute to the magazine. He wrote several short articles; the first issue contained articles by Jones on friends Arthur Streeton and Julian Ashton and he later wrote about war memorials. Three examples of Jones’ own work were reproduced in the magazine; considering his role of director on the publication, the small amount of his art being published suggests that Jones may have been modest about his own work.
During the interwar years Jones became a leading member of the Sydney business community and participated on many commercial boards and charity committees. He was also a director of the Sydney commercial radio station 2BL, and after the formation of the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) in May 1932, he was appointed the ABC’s first chairman, a role he held until 1934.
In 1934 Jones was appointed to the board of trustees of the National Art Gallery of NSW (later AGNSW) by the NSW State Government. The director of the Gallery at the time of his appointment was James S. MacDonald, and Jones later worked with directors Will Ashton and Hal Missingham. While his own painting was dominated by impressionistic landscape, Jones was seemingly open-minded to modern influences in art. While modernism was becoming increasingly popular in Sydney, the majority of the Gallery trustees in the 1930s and early 40s were antagonistic or suspicious of modern artistic trends and did all in their power to prevent the purchase of modernist works into the state collection. Jones would therefore have been regarded as a progressive member of the board of trustees, although by the late 1940s his taste would have been more representative of the general consensus on the board of trustees. The shift in opinion on the board was reflected in Jones’ election to vice-president of the board of trustees, a position he held up to the time of his death.
As chairman of David Jones Ltd, Jones helped establish the David Jones’ Art Gallery at the Market Street department store. The art side of the business probably grew out of displays of decorative arts within the store as well as the need to compete with business rivals, Anthony Horderns and Farmers, who had also established in-store galleries. One of the first major exhibitions at David Jones was a large exhibition of 'Contemporary British Art’ in early 1928. Another important exhibition at the department store was the 'Rayner Hoff Memorial Exhibition’ in 1938. This show honoured the British born, art deco, sculptor who made his name in Sydney during the 1930s. Perhaps the most controversial exhibition at the David Jones’ Art Gallery was the 1939 (Melbourne) 'Herald Exhibition of French and British Contemporary Art’. This exhibition included works by Picasso, Mattise, Rouault and Dali.
David Jones opened a new purpose built art gallery at their Elizabeth Street store. For the new enterprise, Jones recruited landscape artist Will Ashton to become first director. Ashton had just retired from the directorship of the AGNSW and his appointment would certainly have given prestige to the new art gallery. The debut show, by portrait painter William Dobell, occurred only months after the awarding of the 1943 Archibald Prize to Dobell for his Portrait of Joshua Smith. During the remaining years of Jones’ life the store gallery became one of the leading commercial galleries in Sydney and held a diverse range of regular exhibitions, which included displays of decorative arts, solo shows and art society shows.
Jones was a major collector of Australian and international art. A magazine feature on his collection written by Douglas Dundas was published in the September 1971 issue of Art & Australia. While the work of Sir William Dobell featured highly in his late life collection, his Woollahra home, 'Rosemont’, also housed paintings by William Beckwith Gould, Conrad Martens, Charles Conder, Arthur Streeton, Rubert Bunny and Roy de Maistre. European works included paintings by Jan van Os, Stanley Spencer, Maurice Utrillo, and sculpture by Jacob Epstein and Henry Moore.
Jones was knighted in 1951, and in 1954 he was appointed Officer of the Légion d’Honneur for his help with the organisation of a major French art exhibition that toured Australia. Sir Charles Lloyd Jones died at 'Rosemont’ on 30 July 1958. His funeral was one of the largest ever held in Sydney, and Prime Minister Robert Menzies gave the oration at the service in St. Andrew’s Cathedral, Sydney. A wealthy man, Jones left £10,000 to the AGNSW in his will (Missingham, 1973). Following his death solo exhibitions of his work were held at Hawthorn City Art Gallery (1972), David Jones’ Art Gallery (1978), and at the Painters’ Gallery, Sydney (1987). The Royal Agricultural Society of NSW award an annual memorial prize for art in Jones’ honour.
Jones was married three times, firstly to Winifred Ethelwyn Quaife in 1900, that marriage ended when she died in 1916; they had no children. Jones later married Louise Violet Multras in 1917 and the couple had a daughter. After divorcing Louise in 1929, Jones married Hannah Benyon Jones with whom he had two sons.