A celebrated American landscape artist, Jones was a teenager when he began his career, studying with the Maryland Institute and Horace W. Robbins in New York. By 1867 he exhibited with the National Academy of Design; he would gain membership and exhibit with the acclaimed organization for 60 years. His first scenes were primarily of the northeast, and based in the Hudson river tradition. He would later evolve his mature style with the French Plein-Air.
He traveled to Europe in 1876, with his younger brother Francis Coates Jones. They joined with Baltimore artist Thomas Hovenden and banded under the Pont-Aven, Brittany Art Colony banner. He returned to the United States in 1880 and continued painting, traveling often from his New York studio.
His paintings offer some exceptional views of rural America, with strong focus on its seasonal qualities. Jones is widely considered an artist who would capture the lands' emotion along with the accurate colors and structure of the existing flora. He completed his paintings with a feeling for the exact time of day, portrayed through shadow and light, expertly relaying the his personal enjoyment of the diverse lands he observed.