In this portrait, by placing Mercator outdoors with the ocean in the background and having his fingers spread to mimic a drawing compass, the artist clearly intends to symbolically convey the importance of his work to ocean navigation. Mercator’s facial features, long white beard and fur stole seem to be based by Jones in part on an earlier marble statue of Mercator in the Jardin du Petit Sablon, a park in Brussels, Belgium. Another source may have been an engraved portrait of Mercator by Frans Hogenberg made in 1574. This portrait also bears a likeness to an 1886 drawing of Mercator (also without a hat) for Popular Science Monthly. (see References below).
Alfred Garth Jones was an English artist and illustrator known for his woodcuts, pen and ink drawings and watercolors. Born in Manchester, he began studying art in his teens and then moved to London where he continued his studies at Slade School of Fine Art and then in Paris at the Académie Julian. He started using Garth Jones as his professional name early in his career. He began publishing illustration in children’s books, adult periodicals and literary works by Arthur Conan Doyle, Alfred Lord Tennyson, H.G. Wells, and others. In the early 1900s he also received public art commissions including the designing of stained glass windows for Cardiff City Hall. In the U.S. his illustrations appeared in Scribner’s Magazine.
Condition: On “A.C.M. Water Colour Paper, Rough Surface,” now professionally removed from attached Winsor & Newton, Ltd. “Water Colour Sketching Board,” cleaned and deacidified, then rebacked on supporting archival paper. Overall very good condition with minor remaining toning, extremely faint discoloration patches, and wear.
“A sculpture of Gerard Mercator.” Wikipedia Commons. 28 April 2012. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Gerardus_Mercator_statue,_Brussels#/media/File:Bruxels_April_2012-3.jpg (2 November 2017).
“Alfred Garth Jones.” Wikipedia. 2 May 2017. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Garth_Jones (2 November 2017).
Bradshaw, Percy Venner. Art in Advertising: A Study of British and American Pictorial Publicity. United Kingdom: Press Art School, 1925. p. 186.
“Gerardus Mercator.” Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercator_1569_world_map#/media/File:Gerardus_Mercator_3.jpg (2 November 2017).
“Page: Popular Science Monthly Volume 29.” Wikimedia Commons. 2 July 2015. https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Page:Popular_Science_Monthly_Volume_29.djvu/302 (27 November 2017).