John Ruskin (8 February 1819 – 20 January 1900) was the leading English art critic of the Victorian era, as well as an art
patron, draughtsman, watercolourist, a prominent social thinker and philanthropist. He wrote on subjects as varied as geology, architecture, myth, ornithology, literature, education, botany and
Ruskin was a hugely influential figure in Art History who championed and bankrolled Rossetti, Elizabeth Siddal and others to inspire acceptance of the
Pre-Raphaelite movement against popular opinion. It's hard to imagine the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood succeeding without the endorsement of such an authority.
Art has evolved in abstract directions that, I fancy, Ruskin would find unacceptable today; if we measure his devotion to representation by the legal challenge to
Whistler that he officially lost. Ruskin was the purist, it was his way or the highway and today we are conditioned to accept any highway.
John Ruskin was prolific and his writings, paintings and influence continues today. I too am a Champion of Dante Rossetti and the Pre-Raphaelites,
although my utmost respect from that group would be reserved for the true technician John Everett Millais who of course painted Ruskin and married his ex-wife.
I also share a deeply held passion of Ruskin's in my absolute love of all things Venice.
For me the most beautiful place in the modern world....the history behind every shutered window, the achitectural supremacy of the design and the spiritual affect on
the heart of just breathing in the air. Ruskin spent years compiling his 'Stones of Venice' with beautiful studied drawings, in the belief that the craftsmen of Venice could teach us all about purity
I could happily spend all of my days in Venice, indeed I did plan to retire there.
To be drinking coffee in Florians in the footsteps of Byron, to visit the Palazzo from which his mistress lept into the Grand Canal
after a domestic and to imagine Effie and John Ruskin alighting their gondola before the Teatro La Fenice; is to immerse yourself in the most imaginitive & magical dreams of
English Artistic Culture and its relationship with Venetian History and Mythology.