Rev. Calvert Richard Jones (Welsh, 1802-1877)
Street scene with Swansea Castle, Wales, circa 1846
Salt print from a calotype negative
16.2 x 19.7 cm on 19.4 x 24.3 cm paper
Swansea, on the south coast of Wales, was a natural place for Jones to photograph. His family had its roots there and he often lived there himself. Its active harbor had provided subjects for his watercolor brushes for years, and he continued to harvest them when the camera became another artistic tool for him. The title comes from a print in the Horblit Collection, one that was stamped and undoubtedly offered for sale by Henneman.
Jones's treatment of urban areas is fascinating. His streets are rarely populated (although he sometimes added figures to photographs that he hand-colored). His framing is tight and sure and strong perspectives dominate. Here, rising behind Swansea Square, the Swansea Castle dominates the skyline, its clock revealing that it is two in the afternoon. The awnings of the shops are extended, perhaps to ward off the glare of the afternoon sun, but more likely to guard against the rainfall that is a feature of the coastal area. There appear to be recent water markings on the cobblestones. W. Sibbering's grocery shop is one of several that welcome our notice. It may well have had additional meaning for Jones, for it was here that the Swansea Philosophical Society held its early meetings.
Commanding attention in the middle of this composition is a gaslight, a relatively recent amenity that made urban living both more attractive and safe. Whether Jones was intrigued by these, or merely accepted them, is unclear, but they feature prominently and unashamedly in many of his cityscapes.