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Harold Newton

Harold Newton

Untitled Florida Landscape
Oil on Upson board, undated
H: 27 ¾”  W: 39 ¾” (all measurements include frame)
Acquired in 2005

Harold Newton is considered to be the original Highwayman. One of seventeen children, Harold was born in Gifford, Florida, but grew up in Tifton, Georgia. Like his father, Harold labored hard in cotton, tobacco, and peanut fields to provide for his brothers, sisters, and his own children. A naturally talented artist, Newton taught himself how to draw. He supplemented his income by selling black velvet religious paintings out of his car. In the 1950s, Harold moved back to his birthplace of Gifford.

In 1954, Newton met one of Florida’s preeminent landscape artists, A. E. “Bean” Backus, who encouraged him to change from religious subjects to landscapes. With his photographic memory, Newton could reproduce one of Backus’s paintings after viewing it for a few minutes. Backus taught Newton how to use a palette knife to apply paint quickly to the canvas. Painting with a palette knife and traveling the highways to sell paintings were two methods that the other Highwaymen later emulated. Harold mentored not only his brothers Samuel and Lemuel Newton, but also inspired other future Highwaymen, including Alfred Hair, Roy McLendon, and Mary Ann Carroll.