Tom Jones, 1885 – 1961

Tom Jones

All images used with permission of University of Illinois at Chicago, BVIS

Thomas Smith Jones IV was born in an antebellum mansion in Chatham, Virginia in 1885.  Tom became head of the family after his father’s early death, and the family was forced to sell out and move to Alexandria when Tom was only ten. He made it through the seventh grade, but then needed to go to work to support his mother and siblings.  He worked hard, was able to save enough to head to art school at the Corcoran in Washington, DC, and thereafter divided his time between working, saving and studying art in the US and in Paris.

Tom had met anatomist A.C. Eycleshymer in 1905, and worked with him in St. Louis at the University School of Medicine. After Jones returned from Paris, he followed Eycleshymer to Chicago, to the University of Illinois College of Medicine, where Tom stayed for forty-eight years. In 1911, he was also presented with an honorary B.F.A. from the University of St. Louis, and in 1942, he was promoted to the position of full professor.

Tom Jones established the second school of medical illustration in 1921 (one century ago!) at the University of Illinois, and continued to be a highly respected force for advancements in the field. He gave his students much freedom to experiment and stumble, and patiently guided them as needed. He adopted new technologies as they came along, and was first to add photography to the curriculum. Television later became incorporated in 1950.

Jones traveled to England, Europe and Mexico as an ambassador for medical illustration, using a fund that had been donated for this purpose by Dr. Arthur E. Hertzler, a longtime client and friend.

Jones felt that the multi-sensory attributes of 3D exhibits provided an optimal learning experience. Between 1945 and 1952, three exhibits for the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry were designed under the direction of Jones and his student and assistant Ruth Wakerlin: “Miracle of Growth” (1947); “Cancer, the Story of a Wayward Cell” (1949); and “Heart, the Mighty Muscle” (1952), an exhibit for the American Heart Association. A larger-than-life vacuum cast acrylic female torso of a woman with a baby inside her womb was the major attraction in the “Miracle of Growth.” The model and all the casts were produced in the Department of Medical and Dental Illustration at U of I.

In 1944, Jones responded enthusiastically to an appeal by Muriel McLatchie in Boston to help organize an association of medical artists, who had up until then, been working insularly around the US and Canada. He was a charter member and the first president of the AMI from 1945 to 1947, and a member of the Board of Governors for two terms (1945-1948 and 1948-1953).  

Jones was known for his perfection of the watercolor wash wet-in-wet technique, which lent authenticity to tissue textures, somewhat like carbon dust, but more permanent and less delicate.

A Jones quote: “A good thing to remember is that an illustration, whether it be a drawing or photograph, has a job to do. When it leaves our hands, it must go to work. It is on its own, and the only thing that counts is how clearly and quickly it can tell its story or convey its particular message.”

Duodenal Relationships

Watercolor, All images used with permission of University of Illinois at Chicago, BVIS

Transparent Woman and Fetus

Transparent Woman and Fetus

Plexiglas fabrication (Created with Ruth Wakerlin)

Thyroidectomy

Thyroidectomy

Ink Wash

Appendix Induced Rupture

Appendix Induced Rupture

Ink wash

Figure Drawing

Figure Drawing