Story: Moore-Jones, Horace Millichamp

Page 1 - Biography

Moore-Jones, Horace Millichamp

1867/1868?–1922

Artist, soldier, art teacher

This biography was written by Anne Gray and was first published in the Dictionary of New Zealand BiographyVolume 3, 1996

Horace Jones was born probably in 1867 or 1868 at Malvern Wells, Worcestershire, England, the third of 10 children of Sarah Ann Garner, a schoolteacher, and her husband, David Jones, an engineer. He arrived in Auckland, New Zealand, with his family probably in 1885. After studying art under Anne Dobson, a portrait painter and sculptor, he married her in Auckland on 5 September 1891. The couple then moved to Sydney, Australia, where Anne died on 7 June 1901. There were at least three children of the marriage.

From 1892 to 1905 Horace Jones exhibited with the Art Society of New South Wales. About this time he changed his name to Horace Millichamp Moore-Jones and painted what may be his first war subject. He presented this oil painting, 'The departure of the Ninth Contingent from New Zealand for the South African War', to the Auckland Art Gallery in 1902. On 29 November 1905 he married Florence Emma Mitchell at Bellambi, New South Wales. They were to have two daughters and a son. About 1908 he returned with his family to Auckland. There he taught privately and at the Ladies' College, Remuera, where his mother was principal, and exhibited with the Auckland Society of Arts. About 1912 he travelled to London, enrolled at the Slade School of Fine Art, and joined Pearson's Magazine as a staff artist.

In 1914, at the age of about 46, Moore-Jones enlisted in the British Section of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. To gain acceptance he shaved off his moustache, cropped his hair and lied about his age. Before joining the main body of the force in Egypt on Christmas Eve 1914 he trained on Salisbury Plain, and after being posted to the 1st Field Company of Engineers participated in the allied landing at Anzac Cove on the Gallipoli peninsula in April 1915. He was subsequently attached to Lieutenant General Sir William Birdwood's ANZAC Printing Section to make topographical pencil and watercolour sketches of the landscape and plans of allied and Turkish positions. His sketches of the harsh terrain, made under hazardous conditions, were an invaluable aid for planning operations and defence, and were used to illustrate official dispatches. He also made informal picturesque studies of the landscape around Imbros (Gökçeada). Known as 'Sapper Moore-Jones', he chose to remain in the ranks and offered comfort to the sick and wounded while working as a field artist. On being offered the possibility of a commission by a staff officer, he reputedly replied, 'Imagine an old chap like me trying to be a lieutenant.'

In November 1915 he received a wound in his right hand which put a temporary end to his work. His health deteriorated and he was invalided to Britain suffering from exhaustion. After recuperating at the 1st Southern General Hospital, Birmingham, he made further watercolours based on his Gallipoli studies. An exhibition of these was held at New Zealand House from 11 to 24 April 1916 and shown by command at Buckingham Palace. It received a good deal of public approval, and reproductions of his sketches were made in 1916.

In 1916 Moore-Jones was classified unfit for battle duty and repatriated to New Zealand. He settled in Auckland where he undertook portrait commissions and private teaching. His Gallipoli watercolours were shown in Auckland and later toured New Zealand. Thousands attended the exhibitions and heard his talks about the Gallipoli campaign. The sketches provided images of the war through which those at home could feel closer to those involved. Many prints were made and sold to the public and Moore-Jones offered to paint similar scenes on commission. While in Dunedin with the exhibition he painted the first of his watercolours of 'The man with the donkey'. About 1918 he was appointed to teach art at Hamilton High School, to which he travelled from Auckland each week.

On 3 April 1922 the Hamilton Hotel where Moore-Jones was staying caught fire at four o'clock in the morning. Although he escaped without difficulty, he returned to the building to rescue others who were trapped there. Observers said that he displayed the 'greatest heroism', and that 'his gallantry was responsible for many being saved'. Later that day Horace Moore-Jones died at Waikato Hospital, Hamilton, from shock following extensive burns. He was survived by his wife, Florence.

Moore-Jones was tall and well-built with aquiline features. He possessed an engaging personality and an original turn of mind. New Zealand's best-known war artist from the period, he won high acclaim in Britain and New Zealand for his Gallipoli sketches, which are now a vital part of the art collection of the Australian War Memorial, Canberra. In New Zealand his work is represented in the Auckland City Art Gallery, the Hocken Library, the Waikato Art Museum and in several other New Zealand collections.