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Algernon Newton (1880 - 1968)

Lot 41: Portrait of the artist's mother

Christie's

June 17, 2015
London, United Kingdom

More About this Item


Description

ALGERNON CECIL NEWTON, R.A. (1880-1968) Portrait of the artist's mother signed and inscribed 'a portrait in brown'/a.newton' (on the stretcher) oil on canvas 24 x 20 ¼ in. (61 x 51.5 cm.) Painted in 1916.

Dimensions

61 x 51.5 cm.

Artist or Maker

ALGERNON CECIL NEWTON, R.A. (1880-1968)

Exhibited

Sheffield, Graves Art Gallery, Algernon Newton R.A. 1880-1968, July - August 1980, no. 4., this exhibition travelled to Plymouth, City Art Gallery and Museum, September - October 1980 and London, Royal Academy of Arts, November - December 1980.

Provenance

By descent to the artist's granddaughter, Tanya Vinogradoff, Mrs Anthony Hobson.

Notes

Born in 1880 Algernon Newton, grandson to the founder of Windsor & Newton, the celebrated artist's materials firm, was the third generation of Newtons to paint. Such was his passion for art that he left Clare College, Cambridge without a degree in 1900 to study at Frank Calderon’s School of Animal Painting and the London School of Art Kensington. In 1916, having been invalided out of the army during the First World War with pneumonia, Newton returned briefly to the artistic colony in Cornwall, where his paternal grandparents lived, and met Alfred Munnings, who appears to have had some influence on his oeuvre at this time. In 1918 he left Cornwall to explore his artist direction; unsure of his technique and style, he looked to the Old Masters at the National Gallery for inspiration and it was the works by Canaletto that particularly drew his attention. From his observations of, and experiments with, Canaletto's technique of monochrome underpainting, his oeuvre evolved in the 1920s to depict what a recent exhibition catalogue states as an 'almost ethereal film noir lighting' which 'gives an edge to an otherwise everyday scene'. He became fascinated with the faded grandeur of inner city suburbs, deserted waterways and derelict industrial buildings around Paddington, Camden Town and Regent's canal. His first one-man show was at the Leicester Galleries in 1931 and in 1936 he was elected an an Associate member to the Royal Academy of Arts. During this time he embarked on a new kind of subject matter: the country house portrait, capturing the magnificent Stowe, Buckinghamshire amongst others. Between 1941 and 1947 he and his second wife lived in the remote hamlet of Beck Hole in North Yorkshire, before returning to London and his work during this period was dominated by countryside landscapes. Despite regularly selling all of his permitted quota of six paintings at the annual Royal Academy Summer Exhibition on Private View day, sadly and unjustly his name quickly faded after his death in 1968. Only two known solo exhibitions have been held since, both emphasised how underappreciated he has been: one curated by Sheffield City Art Gallery which travelled to the Royal Academy in November 1980 and another more recently at Danny Katz Fine Art, London in December 2012. As the youngest of four boys, Newton was particularly close to his mother, Georgiana (née Nicholls) and who until her death in 1918 proved to be one of his favourite models. This portrait painted in 1916 is considered to be one of the most attractive of his early period. It is a sensitive and serene study dressed waiting for her carriage which art critic Nicholas Usherwood noted in his introductory essay to the exhibition catalogue of 1980 demonstrates ‘a firmness of handling and confidence in composition that gives some first hints of those qualities of stillness and strong sentiment that were later to become the most characteristic qualities of his work’.

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