(1827 - 1912)
Robert Loftin Newman was active/lived in New York / France. Robert Newman is known for landscape, figure, portrait and religious painting.
These Notes represent the beginning of a possible future biography for this artist. Please click here if you wish to help in its development.
Painter Robert Loftin Newman, born in 1827 in Richmond, Virginia, grew up in Clarkesville, Tennessee. A painter of mood, he is sometimes associated with Albert Pinkham Ryder, with whose work he shared thematic and stylistic affinities, especially during the 1880s.
Although he read voraciously on art, he received no instruction, with the exception of five months spent with Thomas Couture in Paris in 1850. At that time, his predilection for color manifested itself in his great admiration for Titian. Newman made a second trip to Paris in 1854, resumed an acquaintance with William Morris Hunt, and was introduced to the Barbizon painters.
After serving with the Confederate forces during the Civil War, he probably lived in New York City until 1867, before moving, in 1872, to Nashville, Tennessee, where he tried to establish an academy of fine arts.
Once again in New York City in 1873 (where he stayed the remainder of his life, with the exception of trips abroad in 1882, 1908 and 1909), Newman designed stained glass for five years for Francis Lathrop. This brought him into contact with leading artists and cultural figures who helped support him, even though he rarely exhibited his work.
His subject matter was usually limited to children, mothers and children, and Old and New Testament themes ("Hagar," Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City; "Christ Saving Peter," Brooklyn Museum). Usually dominating their murky landscape settings, his monumental, often vaguely sketched, figures were brought to life by accents of color rather than by their contours. Eugene Delacroix was an important source of subjects for Newman.
He did not receive public recognition until 1894 when a group of his friends organized a Newman exhibition at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.
Source: Matthew Baigell, "Dictionary of American Artists"
Peter Falk, "Who Was Who in American Art"
Robert Loftin Newman is one of the group known as American visionary eccentric painters of the 19th century. Born in 1827 in Richmond, Virginia, Newman followed an inner calling to paint and was primarily self taught. His early years were spent in Clarksville Tennessee where he supported himself painting portraits.
In 1850 he travelled to France and in Paris studied with Thomas Couture for five months (his only formal training).During his life he was highly admired by his fellow artists, they admired his highly individualistic work and unconventionality. He was never self promoting and avoided the business aspects of art including exhibits and sales. His one exhibition during his lifetime was in 1886 at the National Academy of Design.
From 1865 to his death in 1912 he resided in New York City. An elusive figure he is compared sometimes to Albert Pinkham Ryder with whom he was friends. He was described as a restless spirit, a nonconformist, and a poetic colorist. His works are described as "a massing of shadows and light" they are his lasting contribution to beauty, creativity, and expression.