Fra Newbery was a leading figure in British art and design in the twenty years around 1900. Born in Membury, Devon in 1855, Newbery grew up in Bridport. Here he trained to be a teacher at Bridport Boys’ General School. From about 1871 he attended the Bridport School of Art, on the first floor of the Literary and Scientific Institute, qualifying as an art master, and acting as assistant to its headmaster. Newbery then went on to teach in London before moving to Glasgow where he became Director of Glasgow School of Art.
As Director of Glasgow School of Art from 1885 to 1917 he made his school one of the major art training institutions in the world. As a painter he was closely associated with the Glasgow Boys, a group of artists who were part of the European avant-garde in the early 1890s. He was an important figure in the Arts and Crafts movement in Scotland and in the later 1890s helped the group of designers around the architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh to achieve international fame.
The Glasgow School of Art building which Mackintosh designed in close collaboration with Newbery is everywhere acknowledged as one of the masterpieces of twentieth century architecture. Newbery, however, spent over half of his life in Dorset, retiring to Corfe Castle in 1919.
Fra Newbery Gallery
In his retirement Newbery painted a number of works for public places. Bridport Town Hall houses the largest collection of these, painted and donated to the town as thanks for the role it played in his early education and development.
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