In 1950 Barbara Jones sent this feline-themed Christmas card to her fortunate friends. Christmas Day was an auspicious date for the artist and writer, for it was also her birthday: Barbara Mildred Jones was born on 25 December 1912.
Jones (1912-1978) was fascinated by popular culture, and wrote widely on the subject, but she is particularly remembered here as the author of Follies and Grottoes, the first extensive study of the subject. Her book, first published in 1953 and greatly augmented in the 1974 second edition, combined her own drawings with a delightful and divertive text. The revised edition was published in November 1974, and many lucky people must have received a copy as a Christmas gift (if you don’t have a copy it should be on your Christmas list).
This is the last post of 2022 so as a festive treat here are wonderful watercolours of two follies which have featured in these pages. The first is with Harry Moore-Gwyn Fine Art, and is by Jones herself. It is a 1940 view of the interior of the exquisite grotto at Oatlands in Surrey, which would be demolished only a few years after she visited.
And Guy Peppiatt Fine Art has this charming 19th century view of Farley Mount, the pyramidal hilltop horse monument in Hampshire. There’s a prize to anyone who can tell the Folly Flâneuse what the curious pole/sign in the foreground is.
If you move very quickly you could see both works on display at 6 Masons Yard, St James’s, London until 21st December.
Thank you to everyone who has contributed to these posts in 2022, and thank you for reading. Sending everyone best wishes for the festive season and a happy and healthy 2023.
P.S. Reviewing Follies and Grottoes in 1974 the Birmingham Daily Post suggested that this new edition was ‘surely the last word on the subject’. The Folly Flâneuse begs to differ and will be back in January.