Francis (Fra) Henry Newbery

1855 - 1946

Director of the Glasgow School of Art and painter. Born in Membury (Devon, England), Newbery studied art at Bridport. He moved to London (1875) where he taught art. In 1877, he attended the National Art Training School (South Kensington) where he honed his skills under Edward Poynter and other artists of the time. Newbery became Director of the Glasgow School of Art in 1885. In that time he built an international reputation for the school, invigorating both the quality of the art and the breadth and depth of the teaching. Newbery encouraged exhibitions and competition within the School, and invited leading figures in the art and design worlds to lecture at the School. Through contacts with the University of Glasgow, he enabled his students to receive lectures in anatomy, art history, philosophy and literature. He designed a new curriculum leading to a novel Diploma qualification.

Newbery married Jessie Wylie Rowat, a former student, in 1889. She was a respected designer in her own right and taught book decoration, enamelling, mosaic and needlework at the Glasgow School between 1894 and 1908.

He recognised the talents of Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868 - 1928) and commissioned him to create a new building to house the Glasgow School - now the Mackintosh Building. Newbery and his wife remained lifelong friends of Mackintosh and his wife, regularly holidaying with them in Suffolk.

Perhaps the pinnacle of his success was Glasgow School of Art's contribution to the Turin Exhibition of Decorative Art (1902). Newbery personally selected the pieces for the exhibition and asked Mackintosh to design the settings in which they were displayed. Newbery was close to the 'Glasgow Boys', particularly Sir John Lavery (1856 - 1941), James Guthrie (1859 - 1930) and E.A. Walton (1860 - 1922). His own paintings were exhibited world-wide.

On his retirement in 1918, he moved to Corfe Castle (Dorset) where he continued to paint until his death.

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