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David Jones: A Painter of Words and his Circle

Howard W. Gunlocke Rare Book and Special Collections Room
February 23, 2009
May 22, 2009

 

 

Introduction


David Jones: A Painter of Words and His Circle, on exhibit this spring in the Gunlocke Room in Special Collections, assembles materials from a number of collections which shed light on the life of this important artist and poet. Most often compared to the work of William Blake, due to the mastery of visual art, poetic expression, and consistency of vision, the work of David Jones, spanning painting, engraving, and perhaps most importantly, poetry, have continued to fascinate a devoted following since his death in 1974. To this list might be added the art of letter writing, and Jones’ idiosyncratic and colorful letters are well represented here in the context of the lives and correspondence of his close friends and admirers, among them Eric Gill, Harman Grisewood and Michael Richey.

Complimenting the correspondence are examples of Jones’ engravings and books, from his earliest work for St. Dominic’s Press at Ditchling to his masterful illustrations for The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1929), manuscripts and published editions of his writing, and a selection of his unique “painted inscriptions” as he most often employed them—photographed and sent to his friends as Christmas cards. The experiences and themes that informed Jones’ work echo throughout the exhibit: the life of the frontline soldier in the Great War, the archaeology and folk-history of Britain, and the sacramental nature of art as exemplified in the Catholic Mass. Also exhibited are an original drawing by Jones, The Cat at 1 Victoria Square (1947), and a large painted inscription, EXTENSIS MANIBUS, as published for the ordination as a Catholic priest of the poet Peter Levi in 1964.

The opening of the exhibit coincided with a weekend conference, jointly sponsored by Georgetown University Library and the Cathedral College at Washington National Cathedral, focused on the works of David Jones, including a screening of In Search of David Jones: Artist, Soldier, Poet, a 2008 documentary by artist and David Jones scholar Derek Shiel. Many of the foremost scholars of David Jones attended, including Derek Shiel, William Blisset, and Kathleen Staudt; also attending was Michael Richey, an apprentice of Eric Gill and one of Jones’ closest friends since before the Second World War. 

Ted L. Jackson
Manuscripts Processor
Special Collections Research Center

 

Items in the Exhibition:

 

Eric Gill and Michael Richey, installing The Creation of Adam at the League of Nations Building in Geneva c. 1938

Michael Richey Papers Part 2, Georgetown University Library

Eric Gill, autograph letters signed to Cotton Minchin, February 14, 1928 and October 15, 1929

Eric Gill – H. Cotton Minchin Collection, Georgetown University Library

The letters discuss with Minchin a wood engraving which Gill had been invited to produce for The Legion Book, a collection of works by the foremost artists and writers in England at the time, published for the benefit of veterans and their families. Gill contributed his engraving GIRL SITTING IN LEAVES: BELLE SAUVAGE I, a design he reworked several times, including the design for his collection of essays, Art & Nonsense, mentioned in the final letter.

Art-Nonsense and Other Essays by Eric Gill. London: Cassell & Co., Ltd. & Francis Walterson, 1929

Georgetown University Library

The first of several collections of Gill's essays, Art-Nonsense is also the first published use of his Perpetua typeface.

Eric Gill, Christianity and Art; Capel-y-ffin: Francis Walterson, 1927

Georgetown University Library

An essay by Eric Gill, with the wood engraving The Artist in His Cell by David Jones as frontispiece.

David Jones, St. Paul Breaks Bread in the Boat, undated photograph of the drawing made in 1937 --and-- Eric Gill, St. Paul Breaks Bread in the Boat, wood engraving from the drawing by David Jones, 1938

The Michael Richey Papers, Georgetown University Library

A note by Michael Richey accompanying these pieces explains that the engraving was carried out by Gill to use as an ordination card for a Trappist monk Richey knew. Richey goes on to say that "when he had finished with the drawing Eric, who I imagine had paid David for it, gave it to me. I remember him saying ‘I wish I could do that.'"

The Game: An Occasional Magazine, Vol. II, No. 2, 1918

The Michael Richey Papers, Georgetown University Library

A note by Michael Richey accompanying these pieces explains that the engraving was carried out by Gill to use as an ordination card for a Trappist monk Richey knew. Richey goes on to say that "when he had finished with the drawing Eric, who I imagine had paid David for it, gave it to me. I remember him saying ‘I wish I could do that.'"

Libellus Lapidum; Ditchling: St. Dominic's Press, 1924

Georgetown University Library

A collection of humorous verse by Hilary Pepler and woodcuts by David Jones. Although his well known cover illustration is sometimes described as Jones and Pepler astride Pegasus, a closer look confirms that they are on a bucking horse; Pepler is armed with a pen, Jones with a burin, the tool of the wood engraver.

David Jones, Epstein and John, wood engraving, 1924 Georgetown University Library --and-- David Jones, Abraham Lincoln, wood engraving, 1924

Georgetown University Library

Two proofs first published by St. Dominic's Press in Libellus Lapidum.

Hilary Douglas Clark Pepler, autograph letter signed to Theodore Maynard, c. February 1926

The Theodore Maynard Papers, Georgetown University Library

The letter mentions Desmond Chute's studies for the priesthood in Rapallo, where Chute befriended the poet Ezra Pound, and the departure of Eric Gill from the Ditchling community, which had taken place in 1924. The shock of this event to Pepler can be sensed in his laconic statement "Gill has left us." Shown with the letter are prayer cards for Pepler's daughter, printed on his press for her hopeful healing at the baths of Lourdes on February 22.

Pertinent & Impertinent; Ditchling: St. Dominic's Press, 1922

Georgetown University Library

Both Desmond Chute and David Jones contributed illustrations for this book; shown here is Jones' woodcut The Downs, and a reproduction of Chute's Purgatory from the same work

David Jones, autograph letter signed to Walter Shewring, October 16, 1962

The Walter Shewring Papers, Georgetown University Library

Jones and Shewring carried out a long correspondence following the death of Desmond Chute in Rapallo, Italy in 1962. In these letters Jones puts together memories of his early days in the Ditchling community in 1921 and 1922, particularly his memories of Chute, whom he had been given over to for instruction in wood engraving. Remembering Chute as he labored at a sculpture, wearing an army surplus gas-mask to protect him from the stone dust, Jones points out in this letter that "It's odd how short a time there could have been when D[esmond] & I were together at Ditchling, for, in my memory it seems longer."

Welsh National Lecture Attendees, March, 1966

Harman Grisewood Papers, Georgetown University Library

In the photo from the left: Douglas Cleverdon, Harman Grisewood, Alan Oldfield Davies, Saunders Lewis, David Jones.

Harman Grisewood (1906-1997) received his education at the Benedictine Ampleforth College in Yorkshire (contemporaneously with René Hague) and at Oxford, where he achieved his degree in 1927. It was soon after this time that he befriended David Jones, then living in London, and remained one of Jones' closest friends until his death in 1974. In 1929 Grisewood began working for the BBC and steadily advanced his career there, becoming controller of the Third Programme in 1948, director of the Spoken Word in 1952, and finally assistant to the director-general from 1955 to 1964. Grisewood always supported and encouraged David Jones in his writing and edited several of Jones' works, including Epoch & Artist (1959), The Dying Gaul and Other Writings (1978), and The Roman Quarry and Other Sequences (1980).

David Jones: Writer and Artist, Broadcast in the Welsh Home Service March 1, 1966.

Harman Grisewood Papers, Georgetown University Library

The text of Harman Grisewood's lecture broadcast by BBC.

Harman Grisewood, autograph letter to David Jones dated June 22, 1932

Harman Grisewood Papers, Georgetown University Library

 

This early letter reveals an enduring aspect of the friendship between Grisewood and Jones­— the gentle urging of Jones to continue his work. Referring to the unfinished In Parenthesis, Grisewood writes "Tell me specifically when you write that the book is going on. I can't get on at all with the thing I want to write & when like that I want specifically to hear you're doing yours. (This is no Xtian virtue in me – I'm a man of envy & jealousy about most things but somehow not over this writing business)."

The Old Testament, Vol. 1, J.M. Dent: London, 1908; copy of David Jones, with accompanying note by Harman Grisewood dated 1983
The Old Testament, Vol. 1, J.M. Dent: London, 1908; copy of David Jones, with accompanying note by Harman Grisewood dated 1983

David Jones, autograph manuscripts of Prothalamion and Epithalamion for H & M, 1940

Harman Grisewood Papers, Georgetown University Library

These two poems, discovered after Jones' death by René Hague, were written in 1940 while living briefly in London, at the height of the Blitz. Written on the occasion of Grisewood's marriage to Margaret Bailey, and intended to be published as a gift to them, they were eventually edited by Thomas Dilworth and published by Enitharmon Press in 2002 as The Wedding Poems.

David Jones, undated sketch

Harman Grisewood Papers, Georgetown University Library

Harman Grisewood, autograph letter to David Jones dated August 9, 1952

Harman Grisewood Papers, Georgetown University Library

 

Grisewood, thanking Jones for the gift of a plaque he made in memory of Grisewood's mother, goes on to describe the charm of Winchelsea where he is staying and suggests that Jones come to visit. Referring to the town, he adds "I felt the same about T.S. E[liot]. I wish I knew him. There is some Merlin-like magic about him. Did you see him in his American hat? He looked very magical and very American. I saw him in the street after luncheon. He smiled & waved in a knowing sort of way."

Photograph, "Dai Jones, Harrow: Summer 1955"

Michael Richey Papers, Georgetown University Library

David Jones, autograph letter to Harman Grisewood dated December 20, 1956

Harman Grisewood Papers, Georgetown University Library

Jones responds to a piece of literary criticism sent to him by Grisewood; obviously at odds with the "Kermodish" critics, Jones states "I suppose that we (you & I) can consider ourselves favoured to have at least experienced a decade or so when a real understanding was developing with regard to these ‘ere arts and certainly we were fortunate to be present when Anna Livia and The Wasteland appeared straight from the makers."

David Jones, autograph Christmas greeting to Harman Grisewood's family dated 1960

Harman Grisewood Papers, Georgetown University Library

This example of Jones' painted inscription MVLIER CANTAT reveals one of his most frequent uses for the inscriptions: a Christmas card. He has added a further inscription in yellow paint by hand to the front of the photo, while on the reverse he explains the content of the inscription, informs Harman of his recent goings-on, and gives a little advise on framing the picture. In the section in red ink he recounts the pleasure of having lunch at T.S. Eliot's house.

The Chester Play of the Deluge; Waltham Saint Lawrence, Berkshire: The Golden Cockerel Press, 1927

Georgetown University Library

From 1925 to 1927 David Jones illustrated several books published by the Golden Cockerel Press, culminating with The Deluge in an edition of 225, widely considered to be his masterpiece in wood-engraving. The printing of the plates was marred, however, by the omission of the important initial step of moistening the pages, which resulted in the loss of the fine detail; Jones was greatly dissatisfied with the results.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner; Bristol: Douglas Cleverdon, 1929

Georgetown University Library

Around 1925, David Jones began to practice engraving in copper and by 1928 he was at work on Douglas Cleverdon's edition of The Rime, perhaps his greatest achievement in book illustration. Due to strained vision from the work of engraving and worsening neurasthenia resulting from his war experiences, Jones ceased engraving by about 1932.

David Jones, "Dai Greatcoat", in uniform, c. 1915

From the frontispiece of David Jones, A Fusilier at the Front: His record of the Great War in word and image; Bridgend, Wales: seren, 1995.

David Jones, typed manuscripts Somewhere on the Western Front and A French Vision, By a one-time Art Student, now a member of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, undated

Harman Grisewood Papers, Georgetown University Library

These essays were written by Jones during his first year of service on the front, while on duty as an artillery observer in Flanders in 1916 and the second shortly after his arrival on the front-lines of France in 1915. Both essays were sent to Jones' father, a printer's overseer for the Christian Herald Press, but remain unpublished. These early writings hint at Jones' descriptive ability that would be revealed fully with the publication of In Parenthesis more than 20 years later.

David Jones, In Parenthesis; New York: Chilmark Press, 1961

Georgetown University Library

"First Book Wins Big Prize," Daily Herald: Welsh Edition, June 25, 1938

Harman Grisewood Papers, Georgetown University Library

"Words Gone to War," Time Magazine, April 6, 1962

Harman Grisewood Papers, Georgetown University Library

David Jones, autographed letter signed to Neville Chamberlain, December 18, 1938

Harman Grisewood Papers, Georgetown University Library

This letter, seen here copied in Jones' hand, was sent to Chamberlain with a copy of In Parenthesis; it expresses Jones' hope, born from his experiences in the trenches of the Great War, for a peaceful, unified Europe on the eve of World War II.

René Hague at work on the Albion Press at Pigotts, c. 1930

Reproduced from Eric Gill: A Lover's Quest for Art and God, by Fiona MacCarthy; New York: E.P. Dutton, 1989

The Song of Roland, translated by René Hague; London: Faber & Faber, 1937

Private collection

Hague's admirable prose translation of La Chanson de Roland was printed at the Hague & Gill Press the same year that Hague himself handset and printed the first edition of David Jones' In Parenthesis.

René Hague, autograph letter signed to Michael Richey, November 17, 1939, with photocopy of an autograph letter signed from Michael Richey to Thomas Dilworth, July 3, 1989

Michael Richey Papers, Georgetown University Library

The charisma of René Hague is apparent in this letter, which is thankfully, and amusingly, decoded by the accompanying letter by Michael Richey; Hague for his part corrects Richey on some minor points of Marxism and interprets Eric Gill and David Jones in regards to their own economic or historical perspectives.

René Hague, autograph card signed to Michael Richey, Christmas 1939

Michael Richey Papers, Georgetown University Library

After discussing the quality of the print on the front of the card, a wood engraving perhaps by himself or Richey, Hague writes "I hear your down for naval duties…" Richey would serve in the navy throughout World War II; he wrote about one life-changing experience in his article "Sunk by a Mine" in 1941, for which he later won the Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize for Literature.

Michael Richey, autograph letter signed to his brother Paul, January 13, 1980

Michael Richey Papers, Georgetown University Library

This letter, written one year before the death of René Hague, shows amply what his friendship meant to Richey, and what use he made of his extraordinary gifts. Richey writes "I suppose his most dedicated work was in relation to D. J. whom he held to be the great artist & poet of our time & whose ‘obscurity' he tried to lighten."

David Jones, autograph letter signed to Harman Grisewood, January 18, 1950

Harman Grisewood Papers, Georgetown University Library

This letter to Grisewood accompanied a carbon copy of Jones' typescript of The Anathemata, and expresses his characteristic unease with his writing. Jones writes "I should be most grateful sometime for your severest criticism—I'm not very happy about it" and goes on to note "but I think it gets slightly better if you read it two or three times."

David Jones, typed manuscript of The Anathemata, c. 1949

Harman Grisewood Papers, Georgetown University Library

David Jones, The Anathemata; London: Faber & Faber, 1952

Georgetown University Library

"Bright is the Ring of Words," The Tablet, November 29, 1952

Harman Grisewood Papers, Georgetown University Library

David Jones, autograph manuscript notes for the radio production of The Anathemata broadcast on the BBC Third Programme in 1953

Harman Grisewood Papers, Georgetown University Library

Beginning in 1946 with the first radio production of In Parenthesis, Jones became involved with several recording projects for his written work. The BBC's Third Programme, created in large measure by Harman Grisewood, broadcast a number of dramatic readings of poetry produced by Douglas Cleverdon, including Dylan Thomas' Under Milkwood.

Michael Richey, c. 1936

Michael Richey Papers Part 2, Georgetown University Library

Michael Richey (b. 1917) spent most of his early years abroad before returning to England to attend the Benedictine School at Downside Abbey, where he first became interested in the work of Eric Gill. After graduating in 1935, Richey came to Piggots as an apprentice stone carver, and it was here that he met several lifelong friends, including René Hague, Walter Shewring and David Jones. At the outset of World War II, Richey entered service with the Royal Navy aboard a minesweeper; it was during the war that he developed a passion for stellar navigation which would lead him after the war to head the newly formed Royal Institute of Navigation. Between 1965 and 1996, Richey achieved great acclaim in performing a dozen single-handed transatlantic crossings aboard his yacht Jester.

Eric Gill, typed letter signed to Michael Richey, January 22, 1936

Michael Richey Papers Part 2, Georgetown University Library

According to a note by Richey, he had written to Gill expressing his desire to attempt to teach himself stone carving in his parent's home in London. Gill's letter offers some hope that this could be done, but in keeping with his reputation as a gifted teacher when showing rather than by verbal instruction, he offers little detail here.

Michael Richey, autograph letter signed to his parents, c. 1937

Michael Richey Papers Part 2, Georgetown University Library

In this letter home Richey conveys quite well his attitude toward modern industrialization and mass production, and expresses rather succinctly the sense of Eric Gill's philosophy of art and craftsmanship.

Eric Gill and Michael Richey, photograph of stone plaque, undated

Michael Richey Papers Part 2, Georgetown University Library

This stone plaque with lettering by Eric Gill and dove by Michael Richey was installed in the chapel at Piggots. The photograph appeared as a frontispiece to Walter Shewring's collection of essays Making and Thinking, published in 1958.

Michael Richey, wood engraving dated 1947 and Christmas card with wood engraving, undated --and-- "A Gold for Michael Richey," Yachting Magazine, 1979

Michael Richey Papers Part 2, Georgetown University Library

"A Painter Poet: The Art of Mr. David Jones," The Times, December 17, 1954

Harman Grisewood Papers, Georgetown University Library

T. S. Eliot, typed letter signed to Harman Grisewood, dated April 10, 1956

Harman Grisewood Papers, Georgetown University Library

T.S. Eliot had deemed In Parenthesis "a work of genius" and saw that it was published by Faber and Faber, for whom he worked as editor, followed by The Anathemata. This letter begins a correspondence with Harman Grisewood regarding the publication of a collection of essays and reviews by Jones which would eventually be published by Faber as Epoch and Artist in 1959.

David Jones, Epoch and Artist; London: Faber and Faber, 1959

Private collection

This collection of articles by Jones contains works on a variety of subjects most relevant to Jones' work as a whole, including his masterful essay "Art and Sacrament," originally published in 1955.

"Relic of the Celtic Twilight?" The Times Literary Supplement, May 22, 1959

Harman Grisewood Papers, Georgetown University Library

David Jones, autograph letters signed to Pamela Donner, December 19, 1962 and December 19, 1963

The Jones-Donner Collection, Georgetown University Library

Among the friends with whom Jones corresponded was Pamela Donner, and his letters to her, beginning in 1961, continue to the year of his death. In these letters, Jones often discusses his publications, radio broadcasts, British and Welsh history, Celtic languages, and the history of the Catholic liturgy.

Walter Shewring, c. 1930-40

The Colby-Shewring Collection, Georgetown University Library

Walter Hayward Francis Shewring (1906-1990) converted to Catholicism while a student at Oxford University, where he won great distinction as a Classicist. An admirer of Eric Gill from his youth, Shewring joined Gill's community at Piggots by the late 1920's, forming lasting friendships with Desmond Chute, Michael Richey, and David Jones, even working there as a farm hand during World War II when he was registered as a conscientious objector. Shewring continued a distinguished academic career while serving as the Classics master of Ampleforth College in North Yorkshire, living in the monastery there until his death in 1990. Among his published works are Making and Thinking (London: Hollis & Carter, 1958), a collection of essays on art, culture and Distributism, and most notably, his prose translation of The Odyssey (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980) which continues to be a translation of choice in classrooms.

Hermia and Some Other Poems, Ditchling: St. Dominic's Press, 1930

Georgetown University Library

Poems by Walter Shewring, scholar-in-residence at Ditchling, with woodcuts by David Jones. Seen alongside it is a proof print of a later wood engraving by Jones, The Bride, made as a frontispiece to Hermia. Jones remained particularly fond of this engraving for the rest of his life.

David Jones, autograph letter signed to Walter Shewring dated April 18, 1964

Walter Shewring Papers, Georgetown University Library

After two years of correspondence following the death of Desmond Chute, Shewring, who had travelled to Italy to deal with Chute's possessions, made plans to visit Jones. In this letter Jones thanks Shewring for Chute's marked copy of The Anathemata ("I shall very greatly value that"), and provides Shewring with a map.

Walter Shewring, autograph manuscript translation of The Odyssey, c. 1980

This manuscript, the working translation of Walter Shewring's version first published in 1980, is the first of five volumes; each meticulously written out in Shewring's clear hand on the right, with his notes and those of his editor on the facing page.

Walter Shewring, autograph letters signed to Michael Richey, March 24, 1981 and May 30, 1982

Walter Shewring Papers, Georgetown University Library

When preparing corrections for the second printing of his translation of The Odyssey, Shewring relied on Michael Richey's historical and practical knowledge of sailing to improve his translation of Greek nautical terms.

Word and Image IV: David Jones, b 1895; London: The National Book League, 1972

The Cleverdon-Jones Collection, Georgetown University Library

The catalog for this exhibit, put together and introduced by Douglas Cleverdon with the help of David Jones. This copy was given to Cleverdon by Jones, who provided expansive notes throughout in his characteristic colors.

David Jones, autograph letter signed to Pamela Donner, May 11, 1974

The Jones-Donner Collection, Georgetown University Library

Sent by Jones from the Calvary Nursing Home, this letter continues his discussions with Donner. His subject here is the origins of "Easter" and "Good Friday." On the last page of this letter Jones recalls a story (seen connected by the red arrow) of how, at 7 years old, "I thought one ought to do something on ‘Good Friday'" and so pulled up some wooden slats from his father's garden, "for my intention was to make a wooden cross & carry it round the garden…"

René Hague, autograph letter signed to Michael Richey, dated October 31, 1974

Michael Richey Papers, Georgetown University Library

Peter Levi, "In Memory of David Jones"; London: The Tablet, 1975

Harman Grisewood Papers, Georgetown University Library

The text of Peter Levi's sermon as published by The Tablet separately, along with the first section of the sermon as it appeared on January 4, 1975 in The Tablet newspaper under the title "In Memory of a Maker."

David Jones: a memorial exhibition; Cambridge: Kettle's Yard Gallery, 1975

Georgetown University Library

Eric Gill and Hilary Pepler, In Petra; Ditchling: St. Dominic's Press, 1923

Georgetown University Library

This illustration by Jones, The Church on the Rock, is one of his very earliest, being engraved in 1921.

A Child's Rosary book : being the fifteen mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary divided into three parts : the joyful, the sorrowful and the glorious mysteries; Ditchling: St. Dominic's Press, 1924

Georgetown University Library

Each of the fifteen mysteries is accompanied by a wood-engraving by David Jones; this is the first book to be illustrated throughout by Jones.

David Jones, The Three Kings, wood-engraving printed intaglio, 1926

Georgetown University Library

David Jones, Puma, copper-engraving, 1926

Georgetown University Library

David Jones, Crucifixion, copper-engraving 1926

Georgetown University Library

David Jones, Madonna and Child, wood-engraving, 1923

Georgetown University Library

Inscribed on the back "For Clare & Hilary with love from David Michael"

Pilate: A Passion Play; Ditchling: St. Dominic's Press, 1928

Georgetown University Library

The cover illustration is a wood-engraving by Jones, Judas, with Caiaphas and the Devil, made in 1924.

David Jones, Nativity with lettering, wood-engraving, 1924

Georgetown University Library

This engraving was made by Jones as a Christmas card soon after arriving at Capel-y-ffin; it is his first sustained use of lettering in an engraving.

Hilary Pepler, Aspidistras and Parlors; Ditchling: St. Dominic's Press, 1923

The Theodore Maynard Papers, Georgetown University Library

This "Rhyme Booklet," printed on a single quarter-sheet and folded into four leaves, contains the two title poems by Pepler and several wood-engravings by Eric Gill; the cover engraving Aspidistra was made by David Jones.

 

David Jones, St. Columba, wood-engraving, 1923

Georgetown University Library

David Jones, Tenby from Caldy Island, wood-engraving, 1925

Georgetown University Library

David Jones, Nativity with Beasts and Shepherds, dry point, 1928

Georgetown University Library

David Jones, Pelican in her Piety, copper-engraving, 1928

Georgetown University Library

This copper-engraving, originally published as the tailpiece for The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, is significant for the fact that the lettering, here decorating a passage from the Mass, seems to have taken precedence over the image of the pelican, an ancient symbol for the atonement of Christ.

A Christmas Play as first given by the children of Ditchling Common during the Christmas octave. Ditchling: St. Dominic's Press, 1924

Georgetown University Library

The wood-engraving by David Jones on the cover, depicts St. Dominic and St. Francis beside Mary and the infant Jesus.

David Jones, The Great British Public, wood-engraving, 1926

Georgetown University Library

Two photographs of early paintings of the crucifixion by David Jones, c. 1925

Harman Grisewood Papers, Georgetown University Library

Although Jones never studied lettering with Eric Gill, he began to experiment with letterforms from his earliest days at Ditchling as evidenced by his wood-engravings. These two crucifixion scenes (from a chapel wall at Capel-y-ffin and an early example on paper) include his idiosyncratic lettering which shows obvious affinities with his later painted inscriptions.

VIRGO DEI GENETRIX

Harman Grisewood Papers, Georgetown University Library

This inscription was sent to Harman Grisewood as a Christmas card in 1950. The text has been taken from the liturgy of Christmas and of the birthday of Our Lady and reads: "Virgin mother of God / he whom the world cannot contain / enclosed himself in thy womb / being made man / behold I bring great news to you of great joy"

EXIIT EDICTUM A CAESAR

Harman Grisewood Papers, Georgetown University Library

A Christmas card inscribed to Harman Grisewood in 1949, the text is taken from the second chapter of the Gospel of Luke and, reading around the margin, from Virgil's Eclogue IV.

SYNG HEVIN IMPERIALL

Harman Grisewood Papers, Georgetown University Library

This inscription was commissioned by Faber and Faber in 1961 and used by them that year for this Christmas card, along with the angelic musician, also by Jones. The English text is taken from William Dunbar's On the Nativitie of Christ and the Latin from Virgil's Eclogue IV.

ACCENDAT IN NOBIS

Harman Grisewood Papers, Georgetown University Library

Inscribed as a Christmas card to Harman Grisewood and his family and dated 1961, the Latin text is taken from the ritual of the Mass and reads "May the Lord enkindle in us the fire of His Love / and the flame of everlasting Charity"; the Welsh around the margin is a literal translation of the same.

POSTEA SCIENS IESUS

Georgetown University Library

This inscription was made in 1951 for publication in The Anathemata; it is the only known inscription of Jones that includes musical notation. The text comes from the Gospel of John, chapter 9, and is part of the Good Friday Liturgy.

HIC IACET ARTURUS

Georgetown University Library

"Here lies Arthur, the once and future king." This early inscription, dated by Jones to 1949, shows the results of Jones' experimenting with media (here, with pencil and crayon) and with letterforms, such as the ‘A' lacking a crossbar and the short-legged ‘R.'

ET EX PATRE NATUM

Harman Grisewood Papers, Georgetown University Library

David Jones, pencil draft for a painted inscription, undated

Harman Grisewood Papers, Georgetown University Library

CLOELIA CORNELIA

Harman Grisewood Papers, Georgetown University Library

This photograph bears an inscription dated November 23, 1959 on the verso to Jones' photographer giving him his suggestions for improving the reproduction of the image and acknowledging the difficulties of doing this satisfactorily. He states that if his suggestion to use a matte print "is satisfactory, I should need about 40 prints of it." The text comprises a song to Our Lady made up of phrases taken from Tennyson, Propertius, and Langland, as well as elements of Arthurian literature in Welsh.

David Jones, Cat at 1 Victoria Square, Dec. 1947

Private collection

David Jones, Extensis Manibus, painted inscription published by the Curwen Press for the ordination of Peter Levi, SJ in 1964

Georgetown University Library