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THE PROPERTY OF THE LATE ERIC AND STELLA NEWTON
Eric Newton, C.B.E. (1893-1965) and Stella Newton, O.B.E. (1901-2001)
When Eric and Stella married in 1934, he was art critic of The Manchester Guardian and she was a theatre designer. Eric, a survivor of Passchendaele and the Somme was a gifted writer and brilliant classical scholar, but also an artist and designer for his family mosaic firm in Manchester. Stella, who trained with George Sheringham, was working with Martin Browne (Director of the Religious Drama Society) and T.S. Eliot on The Rock at Sadlers Wells and the following year designed costumes for the first performance of Murder in the Cathedral. Later she ran her own business designing for couture and the theatre.
Eric and Stella both contributed immeasurably to the public flowering of interest in art and design in the British Isles in the 1950s and 1960s. Eric Newton became a household name through his radio lectures The Artist and his Public, and his regular contributions to BBC programmes such as The Critics and the Brains Trust. An advisor to the Arts Council and other bodies concerned with public art, he lectured at the Central School of Arts & Crafts (1963-71) and was Slade Professor of Fine Art at Oxford (1959-60). His many books include War Through Artists Eyes (1945), The Meaning of Beauty (1950) and Tintoretto (1952). Stella became a consultant to the National Gallery from 1952 until 1961, and then founded a unique two-year M.A. course in the History of Dress at the Courtauld Institute of Art. Her pioneering research, teaching at the Courtauld from 1965-76, and publications on various aspects of Dress History from the Middle Ages to nineteenth century now make the study of dress in painting a pre-requesite for all serious art historians.
Eric and Stella befriended a great many artists, later well-known. Henry Moore wrote of Eric as a friend of integrity whom he 'admired and loved very much'. L.S. Lowry, in a letter addressed to 'Mr Newton', thanked him for his support and kindness (see lot 104). Other friends whose work they admired and collected included John Piper, Hans Feibusch, Hans Tisdall, Graham Sutherland (see lots 64 and 65), James Fitton, Barnett Freedman, Christopher Wood (see lot 66), Vera Cunningham and Frances Hodgkins.
Eric and Stella certainly had an erudite and cultivated knowledge of the arts of the past, but their choice of art works for their home reflected their love for and enjoyment of the art of post-war Britain.