Loïs Mailou Jones (American, 1905-1998)
Dinghies at a Shallow Mooring
Signed "Loïs M./Jones" l.r., signed or inscribed "L.M. JONES" on the reverse.
Oil on canvas, 10 x 13 in. (25.3 x 33.1 cm), framed.
Condition: Small paint losses to u.c., minor craquelure, surface grime.
N.B. For more than fifty years, Loïs Mailou Jones forged a successful career as a painter, teacher, book illustrator, and textile designer. An artist of international acclaim, she worked in the U.S., France, Haiti, and Senegal, and she has been represented in more than seventy group shows and the subject of twenty one-woman exhibitions since 1937.
Jones was born in Boston in 1905. During her time at Boston's High School of Practical Arts (1919-1923), she won scholarships for after-school classes at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, and after high school, she enrolled at the Museum School where she was the only African American among the student body, graduating with honors in 1926. She continued her education at the Massachusetts Normal Art School (today's Massachusetts College of Art) and studied textile design at the Designers Art School of Boston.
From her earliest years, Jones spent summers on Martha's Vineyard where her grandmother, Phoebe Moseley Adams Ballou, was one of the first African American summer residents of the Island. Vineyard life and landscape, particularly Menemsha, inspired many of her paintings, and, along with Thomas Hart Benton, Jones is claimed by the island as one of its own.
Jones faced discrimination as an African American artist and as a female artist. Painfully aware that opportunities for black women were scarce in Boston, Jones took a position teaching art at one of the country's first preparatory schools for black students, Palmer Memorial Institute, in Sedalia, North Carolina. Less than two years later, however, she was recruited by James V. Herring, founder and head of the Department of Art at Howard University in Washington, DC., and in 1930, at the age of twenty-five, she began a five-decade-long career as a professor at the university. She became associated with the William E. Harmon Foundation shortly after moving to Washington, and was a frequent participant in its exhibitions during the 1930s.
In 1937 Jones received a General Education Board Foreign Fellowship to study in France. In Paris Jones studied painting at the Académie Julian, lived among the French, learned to speak French fluently, and painted views of Paris and surrounding areas. Paris proved to be a turning point in her career, giving her the freedom to develop as a painter. She wrote that in France she was allowed "to be shackle free, to create and be myself." (1) Jones was the only African American female painter of the 1930s and 1940s to achieve fame abroad, and the earliest whose subjects extended beyond portraiture. In 1952, a book of more than one hundred reproductions of her French paintings, Loïs Mailou Jones Peintures 1937-1951, was published in Paris (Tourcoing, France: Presses Georges Frère, 1952).
Back in the United States, Jones continued to paint and exhibit, including a successful show at Robert Vose Galleries, Boston, in 1939. In 1941, when Jones entered her painting Indian Shops, Gay Head, Massachusetts in a competition at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, this Howard University professor and award-wining artist could not participate directly because African Americans were excluded from the contest. Jones had a white friend deliver the painting to the gallery, and when it won the Robert Woods Bliss Award for Landscape, Jones had the award mailed to her to keep her identity a secret. (2) A half century later the museum publicly apologized to the artist for its past prejudicial policies at its reception for her 1994 solo exhibition, The World of Loïs Mailou Jones. (3)
Much of the information in this N.B. was drawn from "Against All Odds" an article by Karla Araujo that appeared in Martha's Vineyard Magazine, November 2014.
1. Tritobia H. Benjamin, The World of Loïs Mailou Jones (Washington, DC: Meridan House International, 1990), p. 5.
2. Loïs Mailou Jones, A Life in Vibrant Color, Carla M. Hanzal, editor, (Charlotte, North Carolina: Mint Museum of Art, 2009), p. 136.
3. Ibid., p. 140
Frame with a label from Frame & Gift Shop, Washington, D.C. Framed dimensions are 13 5/8 x 16 5/8 in. Linen canvas.
Small paint losses to upper center, upper left, and edges.
The absence of a condition statement does not imply that the lot is in perfect condition or completely free from wear and tear, imperfections or the effects of aging. Condition requests can be obtained via email (lot inquiry button) or by telephone to the appropriate gallery location (Boston/617.350.5400 or Marlborough/508.970.3000). Any condition statement given, as a courtesy to a client, is only an opinion and should not be treated as a statement of fact. Skinner Inc. shall have no responsibility for any error or omission.