John Ruskin

Portret van John Ruskin.

Hieronder het artikel uit Chambers’s cyclopædia of English Literature uit 1886 over John Ruskin.


Letter John Ruskin, the great art critic, was born in London in 1819, the only son of a wealthy winemerchant. He graduated at Christ Church College, Oxford, and in 1839 took the Newdigate prize for English poetry. Impressed with the idea that art was his true vocation, he studied painting under Copley Fielding and J.D.Harding; but the pencil has long sonce become merely the auxiliary of the pen.

In 1843 appeared the first part of Modern Painters, by an Oxford Graduate, which, though published in his twenty-fourth year, displays deep thought, and a rare command of pure English. The second part was published in 1846, and the third and fourth in 1856. It may be questioned if Mr.Ruskin has again risen to the level of his first two volumes. Latterly, his works have been hurriedly written, and though often rising into passages of vivid description and eloquence, are generally loose and colloquial in style.

The seven Lamps of Architecture, 1849, The stone of Venice, 1851 – 53, and Modern Painters, are Mr. Ruskin’s principal works; but we also mention the following: Pre-Raphaelitism; The Construction of Sheepfolds (the discipline of the church), 1851; The Opening of the Crystal Palace, 1854; Giotto and his Works; Gothic Architecture; Lectures on Architecture and Painting, 1854; Notes on the Academy Exhibitions for 1855-56-57-58 and 59; The Elements of Drawing, 1857; Notes on the Turner Gallery, 1857; Cambridge School of Art, 1858; Elements of Perspective, The Political Economy of Art, 1858; The Two Paths, 1859.

In 1861 a Selection from the works of Mr.Ruskin was published in one volume – a treasure to all young literary students and lovers of art. Among his subsequent works are: Unto this Last, essays on political economy, 1862; Sesame and the Lilies, 1865; The Crown of Wild olives, 1866; The Queen of the Air, being a study of the Greek Myths of Cloud and Storm, 1869; Lectures on Art, delivered before the university of Oxford in 1870; Arata Pentelici; The Elements of Sculpture; Michael Angelo and Tintoret, Ariadne Florentine, Lectures on Wood and Metal Engraving, 1872; Love’s Meinie, 1873; Val d’Arno, 1874; Frondes Agrestes, 1875; Proserpina; Deucalion, 1876; Mornings in Florence; Laws of Fesole, 1877; and Notes on the Turner Collection, 1878; Arrows of the Chace, 1880, a selection from the scattered letters; and the Lord’s Prayer and the Church, 1880.

After the withdrawal of his works from the usual trade channels, a revised and uniform series of his works was commenced. Mr.Ruskin became Slade Professor of Fine Arts at Oxford in 1870, and in 1871 gave £5000 for the endowment of a master of drawing.
For several years he carried on a serial, Fors Clavigera, in behalf of his model utopia, the Society of St.George. He has also founded a Museum at Sheffield, where he has bestowed many of his own books and art treasures.

Mr.Ruskin’s writings have made art and art literature popular; and to their influence may be ascribed the origin of the Pre-Raphaelite school of srtists. Mr.Ruskin seems often to contradict himself; but on this point his mind is easy. „I never met with a question yet,” he says, „which did not need, for the right solution of it, at least one positive and one negative answer, like an aquation of the second degree. Mostly, matters of any consequence are three-sided, or four-sided, or polygonal; and the trotting round a polygon is severe work for people any way stiff in their opninions. For myself, I am never staisfied that I have handled a subject properly till I have handled a subject at least three times.”