The New Student's Reference Work/Ruskin, John

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John Ruskin

Rus′kin, John, the great art-writer, was born at London, Feb. 8, 1819, the only child of a wealthy wine-merchant. He took his degree at Oxford in 1842, and studied painting under Copley. The story of the earlier years of his life has been told by himself in Præterita, one of the most charming autobiographies in any language. In 1843 came the first volume of Modern Painters, which treated the principles of art in an independent and even revolutionary way. Though greatly opposed at first, Ruskin’s views have largely determined the character of later English art. In 1849 appeared The Seven Lamps of Architecture and two years later The Stones of Venice. The titles of Ruskin’s books often give no indication of the subject. Notes on the Construction of Sheepfolds deals with church-discipline; The Crown of Wild Olive consists of four essays on work, traffic, war and the future of England; Sesame and Lilies, lectures on good literature; The Queen of the Air, on the Greek myths of cloud and storm; Ethics of the Dust, lectures on crystallization. From 1869 to 1879 Ruskin was professor of art at Oxford. Ruskin is noted for his splendid style, which for eloquence, power and richness hardly has any equal. In art he tells us that he aimed to set forth the “supremacy of five great painters, despised till he spoke of them — Turner, Tintoret, Luini, Botticelli and Carpaccio.” His Munera Pulveris deals with political economy, on which he wrote from an independent point of view. See Cook’s Studies on Ruskin. He died at Brantwood, in the English lake-region, Jan. 20, 1900.