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William G. Newton Pencil Sketches 1859-1877

About this collection

The collection consists of 228 pencil sketches made between 1859 and 1877 of scenes in the Washington D.C. area . The sites of some of the sketches were identified on the back of the item; others were suggested by Dr. Chappelle of the Smithsonian Institution; Miss Williams of the Georgetown Branch of the D.C. Public Library; and Josephine Cobb of the Columbia Historical Society. The sketches, in their choice of treatment of landscape and historical themes, place Newton within the 19th century landscape tradition. The frequent choice of Rock Creek and the Potomac River illustrate his search for a picturesque and sublime beauty in the juxtaposition of water and land. Landscape scenes amidst the rolling countryside of Maryland and Virginia are presented with a pastoral serenity. The Van Ness Mansion ruins, Analostan Island, scenes in Bladensburg, and old structures have captured Newton's imagination as he communicates a romanticized view of the region's past. Born in Akron, Ohio in 1825, Newton came to Washington, D. C. in 1846 to work for the W. H. Dougall engraving company in Georgetown. During the Civil War he went into Government service in the War Department, where he stayed until his death in 1895. He began sketching and drawing as a small boy and continued his hobby as an adult in Washington, spending many hours on Sundays and holidays wandering through the Potomac region, producing sketches of places he visited. Mr. Newton's wife was Mary E. Little, a native of Washington. The last survivor of their seven children was Sallie Newton who provided this information on her father. William Newton is buried with other members of his family in Oak Hill Cemetery in Washington.

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