When it comes to who is the greatest artist ever to have been born in Shropshire, Margaret Rope would seem to be the one. For creativity, passion and vision, she is out there on her own.
Her only rival (surely!) is the sculptor Anthony Twentyman, who, interestingly, like her, is largely neglected.
Therefore, it does seem bewildering that, in Shropshire, the achievements of the county’s really fine artists have been neglected – having to give way to other, lesser, Shropshire-born artists, who (strangely) have more local attention!
One of these ‘better-rated’ Shropshire artists is Captain Adrian Jones.
He was born 1845 in Ludlow, where he lived until he joined the army as a young man. While still in the army, he began painting.
By his thirties he was gaining some notice for his equestrian paintings, especially those of well-known racehorses. By his forties, he was also sculpting, and by his fifties he was gaining many commissions by leading figures in society for pictures and figures of horses.
His most famous work is the huge bronze sculpture, Peace Quadriga (1912), which is in London atop the Wellington Memorial in Hyde Park (pic, right) – the largest bronze sculpture in Britain…. It involves horses, obviously.
He is also responsible for the war memorial in Bridgnorth Park, a soldier throwing a hand grenade.
However, his work seems to have fallen out of favour particularly quickly in the twentieth century; and nowadays, we would think of Adrian Jones as just a very successful turn-of-the-century jobbing artist. Animal portraitists might rate him a little more highly though, because his career as an army vet did give his studies of horses extra authenticity.
Ludlow pays tribute
Both Captain Jones and Margaret Rope seem to have had some affection for their home county. Though both left the area fairly early, Margaret depicted scenes of the Shropshire hills in her windows more than a few times, while Captain Jones founded the Shropshire Club.
After his death, Adrian Jones’ ashes were brought to Ludlow to be buried in the town’s parish church of St Laurence.
As for whether the affection is returned…
In fact, Ludlow has made a real effort to celebrate its home-grown artist – and two of his pieces are on display in Ludlow College, as well as a bust made of him by the local artist Jemma Pearson.
But…. by contrast, Shrewsbury does not have any sort of acknowledgment to Margaret Agnes Rope…
Let’s hope that the 2016 exhibition of her life & works at the town’s museum shakes Shrewsbury out of its neglectful torpor!
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