View All Art Works By Alexander Charles Jones
Celebrated contemporary animal (and in particular, horse) artist, Alexander Charles-Jones has horse racing in his blood and comes from a long line of horsey types; whilst art also figures pretty highly in his run of things as you can probably imagine from his job description. There are however few (if any) artists whose claim to fame is that they’ve ridden two winners to victory in famous horse races at equally famous venues, Aintree and Cheltenham; more of which later. For now though, we know that Charles-Jones was born in 1959 in Gloucestershire into a family with a preoccupation with horses, hunting and art. Creativity seemed to make interesting and habitual bedfellows with more equine matters in the Charles-Jones family, where his father was both master of the local Foxhounds and had also had his name on the credits of a film as its Director. What’s more, Charles-Jones’ mother was also an acknowledged and talented artist, and along with his four siblings inherited a passion for (and eventually entered the somewhat unconventional job share market) in the fields of both equestrian training and competition AND painting.
From an early age Charles-Jones showed an immense and prodigious gift for the paint and brushes, so much so that as a mere 11-year old schoolboy that initial piece not only caught the attentions of a local art dealer but also subsequently resulted in him digging deep in his pockets to purchase the precociously-painted composition. On the back of this unmitigated success, Charles-Jones’ school commissioned a brace of watercolours – one depicting a hound, whilst the other (perhaps unsurprisingly) featured a horse – which were then showcased and ultimately presented to a visiting school governor.
Charles-Jones was said to have been inspired at an early age by being exposed to the works of one of the leading and most admired sporting painters of the Twentieth Century; Raoul Millais (1901-1999). The budding fine artist was clearly influenced greatly by Millais’ art, which gave Charles-Jones a sense of illustrative purpose and direction to his own pieces, as well as energising his whole approach to the genre. Not only that, but it emerges that Millais also acted as a mentor to Charles-Jones in his latter life, encouraging and nurturing Charles-Jones as he showed signs of great promise himself. Speaking on this very subject, Charles-Jones concurs; “I started see Raoul as an under study in Oxfordshire when I was about 12 and kept in touch until his death; he was a great inspiration and influence”.
What is perhaps even the more remarkable is the fact that Charles-Jones never once attended a college of art to further his talent; however with one of the most respected elder statesmen of his chosen pictorial genre acting as a guiding light, then we guess a formal art education just couldn’t compare. Charles-Jones simply painted and painted as a youngster. Essentially painting everything he observed around him as he grew up. And that inevitably meant horses. Spending his formative years firstly in Gloucestershire, before being moved by his family to both Newmarket and Lambourn, Jones found himself in the thick of the racing action, and during this period considered the trainers and jockeys who he mixed with as additional mentors and, when presented with his latest composition, Charles-Jones’ harshest critics.
It wasn’t long into his adulthood that Charles-Jones started making a name for himself in sporting art circles, and now, looking back on a professional painting career which thus far has spanned some 20 years and counting, there’s much to recall fondly and admire. Not least Charles-Jones’ string of notable commissions received, many of which on completion were recognised by the contemporary art and racing industries in the form of awards. For example Charles-Jones scooped the Courage Racehorse Owners’ Award on numerous occasions over a 10 year stretch from 1985 to 1995, in acknowledgement of his paintings of such household name racehorses as Dawn Run, Desert Orchid, Norton's Coin, Dancing Brave, the benchmark and Loch Song. In terms of Charles-Jones’ signature compositions, these typically are founded in a degree of graphic realism, presented in vibrant colours which effectively inject visceral and fluid movement and embody a sense of life into his recurrent equine and hound-based subject matter. Conversely there is also a strong sense of peace and almost tranquillity to Charles-Jones’ pieces, which forges a striking balance to his paintings, appealing to a broad audience.
And then there’s Charles-Jones the jockey, as hinted in the intro, as going hand in hand with his natural ability to paint is Charles-Jones’ amateur riding status which he enjoyed for a passage of time. A successful passage of time at that, which included being the winning mount on the Foxhunters at Aintree in 1998 as well as the Cheltenham Foxhunters in 2000; both rides courtesy of the John Manners' trained horse, Cavalero. This rare insight into the other side of the business as it were placed Charles-Jones in the enviable position of being able to view and approach his art from two entirely different standpoints which are not usually afforded the equine artist to this extent. And of course those that know their horses instantly recognize Charles-Jones’ extraordinary talent to convey the beauty and muscle of the animal, and the sense of expectation and excitement of the races.
Once he’d retired his amateur jockey status, Charles-Jones focussed entirely on his paintings and regularly attends as many meets as possible to capture the essence and atmosphere of the sporting environment in person and on his sketchpad. To date Charles-Jones’ individual and collective works have been exhibited far and wide, including throughout the UK, France, Switzerland, Holland, Germany and North America.