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Henry Roderick Newman was an American self-taught painter. He was greatly influenced by John Ruskin’s nature scenes and landscapes. His artwork is especially remarkable for his strong use of color and balanced composition that often used the architecture as his main focus. The artist also drew much inspiration from Japanese painting and printmaking.
Henry Roderick Newman was born in March 1843, in Easton, United States. His father was a physician and surgeon Roderick b. Newman, who insisted that his son pursued the medical career, although Henry’s inclinations always went towards art.
Upon his father’s death around 1861, Newman convinced his mother to let him study art for a year when he retreated to Stockbridge, Massachusetts, to sketch directly from nature. This period resulted in several highly realized nature studies. Three of said artworks were even shown at the National Academy of Design; this would be the kick-off of Newman’s career as an artist.
Newman was one of the first American artists to paint in Florida, along with John Bunyan Bristol. He was attracted to the region for health reasons and painted in the St. Augustine area for about two years.
In 1872, Henry Newman moved to Florence to study painting and became amazed by the city’s architecture, as well as by masterpieces by old masters such as Fra Angelico and Giotto. Painting Italian architecture became Newman’s new specialty. Although still good at painting landscapes, he was not very successful in selling them.
Newman married in 1883, and the couple promptly settled in Florence permanently, where he also opened his studio. With John Ruskin’s support, Newman enjoyed considerable recognition and status as an American painter in Europe. Newman traveled extensively throughout Europe, as well as many times in Egypt and also Japan, making precise depictions of the architecture was always a primary focus.
Henri Roderick Newman died on January 16, 1918, in the city of Florence, Italy.