Byron Glee Newton (American, 1893-1973) commercial artist, illustrator, inventor and art instructor primarily known for his watercolor and gouache paintings, illustrations/ads, as well as art prints and serigraphs. Byron was born February 17, 1893 to Mr. F. Jess Newton (-1936) and Addie (née Jewell) Newton (1868-1933) in Chicago, IL and the family later moved to Fulton, NY. He graduated from Fulton High School and studied at the Fine Arts College of Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY. He had the distinction of winning the Eloise Nottingham Prize of $50 for the best freshman work, the Harriet T. Leavenworth Scholarship Prize of $100 for best sophomore work and the Roswell S. Hill Prize of $50 for best junior work and was also a member of the Gamma Epsilon Fraternity. He was in his senior year at the University in 1917 when he quit his studies in early October and enlisted in the 15th Infantry to serve in WWI. By November of that same year he had already made corporal and then was promoted to sergeant shortly thereafter by early January of 1918. He also played flute and was piccolo soloist in the Army’s 15th Infantry band. After the war, he returned to his painting and completed his studies at Syracuse University where he also served as President of the Illustrator’s Club. After graduating, he taught art for one year before turning his attention to commercial advertising art and even invented and patented a ‘hydraulic transmission mechanism’ (1921) during that time.
During the summer of 1926, Byron exhibited in a group show of Syracuse artists at the Syracuse Museum of Fine Arts and won critical praise for his gouache painting of a romantic Colonial scene which was considered, “…the best picture on the walls.” by art critic Robert W. Friedel who continued, “The subject is dominated by a white-columned Colonial house in a shadowy park, forming the setting for two romantic figures in the foreground. In every way it is most artistic and unusual. The artist paint in gauche [sic]: his technique having extraordinary finish, being especially appropriate to his imaginative subject; his drawing is precise, delicate and detailed; his color soft and refined at pastel; and his composition and lighting most attractive. Such work should bring the artist fame and fortune.”
Throughout the 1920’s-40’s, Byron worked as a commercial artist and illustrator. He did various illustrations and magazine ads for companies like The Elgin A. Simonds Furniture Company, Oneida Community Ltd., Mohawk Carpet Mills, Inc., as well as a cover illustration for the well known magazine Collier’s (1930). He also did illustrations that were reproduced as decorative prints to include fantasy scenes, neo-classical prints in the Maxfield Parrish style, as well as serigraphs of florals/botanicals and various birds to name a few. Circa the early-mid 1950’s, he served as director and taught art at the Miami Art School, Miami, FL and was a member of the Miami Associated Artists.
Byron married Clarice (née Manning) Newton (b. Aug 29, 1900-d. Jan. 12, 1986) on August 15, 1918 whom he’d met while stationed at Camp Green, Charlotte, NC during WWI and they had a son Byron G. Newton, Jr. (b. Feb. 21, 1923-d. Feb. 7, 2011). Over the course of his life and career, Byron resided in various places to include: Fulton, NY, Syracuse, NY, Charlotte, NC, Baltimore, MD, Stamford, CT, Miami, FL and Winter Garden FL. Byron died October 10, 1973 in Winter Garden, FL and is buried alongside his wife in Woodlawn Memorial Park, Gotha, FL.
(Written & Compiled by Mark Strong of Meibohm Fine Arts, Inc., East Aurora, NY, meibohmfinearts.com)