John Ruskin

English writer and art critic (1819–1900)

John Ruskin (8 February 1819 – 20 January 1900) was the leading English art critic of the Victorian era. He was also an art patron, draughtsman, watercolourist, a prominent social thinker and philanthropist. He was hugely influential in the last half of the 19th century, up to the First World War.

John Ruskin
John Ruskin in 1863
John Ruskin in 1863
Born(1819-02-08)8 February 1819
54 Hunter Street, Brunswick Square, London, England
Died20 January 1900(1900-01-20) (aged 80)
Brantwood, Coniston, Lancashire, England
OccupationWriter, art critic, draughtsman, watercolourist, social thinker, philanthropist
Alma materChrist Church, University of Oxford
King's College London
PeriodVictorian era
Notable worksModern Painters 5 vols. (1843–60), The Seven Lamps of Architecture (1849), The Stones of Venice 3 vols. (1851–53), Unto This Last (1860, 1862), Fors Clavigera (1871–84), Praeterita 3 vols. (1885–89).
SpouseEffie Gray (1828–1897) (marriage annulled)


Ruskin wrote on a wide range of subjects. These included geology, architecture, myths, ornithology, literature, education, botany, and political economy. In all his writing, he emphasised the connections between nature, art and society. He also made detailed sketches and paintings of rocks, plants, birds, landscapes, and architectural structures and ornamentation.

Ruskin first came to widespread attention with the first volume of Modern Painters (1843), an extended essay in defence of the work of J. M. W. Turner. He argued that the principal role of the artist is "truth to nature". From the 1850s he championed the Pre-Raphaelites who were influenced by his ideas.

In 1869, Ruskin became the first Slade Professor of Fine Art at the University of Oxford, where he established the Ruskin School of Drawing. He founded the Guild of St George, an organisation that still exists.



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