Clare College Alumni

    

Algernon Cecil Newton


 

Algernon Cecil Newton RA (1898), born in Hampstead in 1880, was distinuguished painter and the grandson of one of the founders of the now international paint company Windsor & Newton.

He came up to Clare around 1898, but little is known of his time at the College. He was a student here for two years, but left without a degree to pursue further study in Fine Art; first at Frank Calderon's School of Animal Painting, and later at London School of Art, Kensington.

He struggled as a young artist initially, and travelled around Britain trying to make a living from his work. He served in the army in WWI, but was invalided out in 1916. Divorced and estranged from his children, Newton was reduced to selling his paintings on street corners. He was so embarrassed at his situation that he pretended to be disabled and wore a mask, to avoid being recognised. 

However, in the 1920s Newton’s work matured and he began to gain recognition as a painter. In 1928 he was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy, and was made a full Royal Academician in 1943. He specialised in urban views painted in a sombre, naturalistic style; his penchant for scenes involving waterways earned him the nickname ‘the Canaletto of the canals’ (The Surrey Canal, Camberwell, 1935, Tate). He died in 1968, and in his obituary in The Times he was described as ‘a painter of quiet distinction…He could take the most forbidding canal or group of factory buildings, and, without romanticising or shrinking any detail, create a poetic and restful composition out of it.’