#artanddesign - #artist

Artist focus: Emma Jones

Elizabeth Emma (Jones) Soyer – (1809-1842)

Emma Jones

Lost in Time – the artist dilemma.

Throughout the centuries, there have been many artists that became unknown for one reason or another. One such artist I recently stumbled upon was Elizabeth Emma Jones (Soyer), known as Emma Jones. The first time I heard about her was on an episode of Fake or Fortune that investigated a painting that was eventually attributed to her.  Even though she had many works of art and even paintings that were shown at the Royal academy, she gradually was forgotten after the death of her husband. With his death, she lost her support and her paintings were sold at auction.

Alexis Soyer

Ms. Emma Jones was a child prodigy. Her earliest work was while she was still a child. This was during a time women were not encouraged to pursue careers outside of the home. Fortunately for her, she was encouraged to find an art teacher so she could develop her art technique. She was instructed in portraiture by Francois Simonau who was also her step father. It was in Simonau’s studio she met her future husband, Alexis Soyer, the chef of the Reform Club in London, whom she painted along side her instructor.

Emma lived during period of the international slave trade. Despite the cruelty of this time, she was part of a group of women who organized lessons to educate those sold into slavery. She was one of the few painters who included black people as the focal point, beautifully painted and not the usual depictions as part of the background or as exaggerated caricatures. She seemed an empathetic woman but who had some privilege in life.

Two Black Children With a Book

There is so much to this painting. It is a portrait of two sisters. You can see a family resemblance. I find it endearing, showing sisterly affection, with the older sister with her arm around the younger. The younger girl gazes at the viewer while the older looks heavenward with a book on her lap. The use of a book in a painting during this time indicated education. These girls knew had to read and was reading what looks to be the Bible. With the gaze to heaven and the Bible, this shows to me faith in God. The whole painting is so softly rendered. The glow of the skin and the use of silken fabric. These are two lovely girls despite the era they lived through.


I was very happy to learn about this great artist. Her artwork is beautiful. In the ever-evolving tapestry of art and culture, some artists inevitably fade into the background while others shine brightly for generations. However, it’s essential to remember that every artist, whether widely recognized or forgotten, has contributed to the rich mosaic of our shared history. Their visions, emotions, and expressions have shaped our world in myriad ways. By revisiting and celebrating their works, we not only honor their legacy but also rediscover the timeless beauty and insights they offer. So, let’s take a moment to appreciate all artists, past and present, for their invaluable contributions to the tapestry of human experience.

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