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Victor Newsome, ‘funny and sharp’ artist who toasted life with creativity

Award-winning painter was well known in Belsize Park pubs, the Washington and the Sir Richard Steel

26 July, 2018 — By Helen Chapman

AWARD-WINNING painter Victor Newsome, who has died age 83, was well known among regulars at pubs in Belsize Park where he would sit and debate art and religion, or sit with a pint of beer drawing sketches.

He would divide his time between The Washington in England’s Lane and the Sir Richard Steele in Haverstock Hill, where former landlord Paul Davies described him as “sharp and funny”.

“Victor was good company. He was quiet and a bit of a lone wolf, but he knew a lot of people and knew everybody in all the pubs. He had a wealth of knowledge about art and he would sometimes come in with people from the art world,” said Mr Davies. “He was a lunchtime drinker – but he was a man who liked to study drink, not someone who would overindulge. He wasn’t a Francis Bacon type – he wouldn’t have two bottles of wine before lunch. He worked his schedule for work and then he had his downtime.”

Mr Newsome was born in Leeds and studied art there before moving to Rome to study at the British School on a scholarship. In Italy, he met his wife Cristina Bertoni, a sculptor with whom he had a daughter, Susanna, and a son, Joseph, who lives in Florence. They separated after five years of marriage.

When he returned to the UK, Mr Newsome’s career as an artist and art teacher took off. For several years the Royal Academy exhibited some of his works, and his paintings can be seen at the Tate, the Victoria & Albert Museum and the British Library. Mr Newsome’s work has also been displayed at the Grosvenor Gallery, where in 2012 they exhibited his full-face portraits of the Virgin Mary and Jesus.

“The last of his art works are probably the most interesting,” said his daughter, Susanna Newsome, “they express the depth of the human soul through religious subjects.”

The Grosvenor Gallery will be holding a commemoration exhibition later this year where more than 30 of Mr Newsome’s works will be on sale.

Conor Macklin from the gallery said: “His works sell from £700 to several thousand pounds. There will be an overview of his body of works from the early 60s with his bathroom series of women in baths, then his geometrical works from the 70s which include some sculptures, and then the 80s when he became preoccupied with Christ and the Virgin Mary.”

Susanna Newsome added: “Victor celebrated life by devoting himself to creating art, loving pleasures, investigating religious essentiality and always maintaining a vision which descended into depths of forms and concepts. He has toasted life.”

Mr Newsome died on Friday, July 6. The funeral took place yesterday (Wednesday) at Golders Green Crematorium.

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