After studying under Richard Wilson R.A. (1714-1782) between 1763-1765, Jones remained in London until he moved to Italy the following year. He lived first in Rome and then in Naples until 1783. The present drawing belongs to a series executed by Jones on his travels around Naples with fellow artist Francis Towne (1740-1816).
Jones was so taken with the scenery on the road to Santa Maria dei Monti, a monastery set high on a ridge to the east of Naples, that he executed as many as sixteen drawings of the area during 1781. His Memoirs record how the sublime nature of this landscape moved him. Interpreting the views through his knowledge and admiration for one of the great masters of the sublime, he wrote: 'I proceeded to meet Pars [William Pars, A.R.A. (1742-1782)], according to an appointment at an Osteria in the road to S'aMa' de Monti - In this hollow Way is a most beautiful Series of picturesque Objects.... Here may visibly be traced the Scenery that Salvator Rosa formed himself upon... and every hundred yards presents you with a new and perfect Composition of that Master.- When Towne was in Naples, I took him with me to see this romantick place, with which he seemed much delighted.' (Memoirs of Thomas Jones, Walpole Society, vol. XXXII, p. 102).
Works by Jones appear infrequently on the market. Other watercolours by Jones of the same road are in the collections of the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester and the Tate, London.