For over thirty years John Newman has been the human face of the Courtauld Institute. Whenever the Courtauld was accused of being, like other metropolitan institutions, upstage or arrogant, there was someone to demur, ‘Ah, but there’s John Newman.’ And, indeed, his modesty and kindness highlight the human side of the Institute, of which there were of course many other representatives.
John took Greats at Oxford in 1955–59 and then went on to teach Classics at Tonbridge School. However, by 1963 he had firmly decided not to pursue schoolteaching as a career. He had become more interested in art history and, as he wrote to the Courtauld when he applied for a place on the Academic Diploma course, ‘especially in architectural history’. He passed the Diploma with distinction in 1965 and began work on a Ph.D. under John Summerson on English seventeenth-century architecture. But as early as 1966 he was appointed full-time Assistant Lecturer, which left him insufficient time to complete his thesis.
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