The 18th and 19th Centuries


 

 



Neoclassicism and Romanticism

 



(Neoclassicism, Romanticism and Art Styles in 19th century - Art Map)
 

 






The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood



 



Charles Lock Eastlake

John Ruskin

Mary Macomber



see also:

Arturian Legend  (Pre-Raphaelite's and Beardsley's Vision)



Pre-Raphaelite Illustrations for  Moxon's Tennyson





see collections:


William Holman Hunt

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

John Everett Millais

Ford Madox Brown

Edward Coley Burne-Jones

Arthur Hughes

Edward Robert Hughes

John William Waterhouse

Thomas Cooper Gotch
 

 
 


The Pre-Raphaelites

Between 1825 and 1860, life in England underwent profound changes as a result of the Industrial Revolution. In a country soon to be transformed by coal and steel production and its peripheral side effects of poverty and pollution, the luminous, sharply focused paintings of the Pre-Raphaelites provided a form of escape. The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was formed in 1848 by William Holman Hunt (1827-1910), Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-82), and John Everett Millais (1829-96). They were later joined by others, including Ford Madox Brown (1821-93) and Edward Coley Burne-Jones (1833-98). They initially signed their works with the initials PRB, causing much controversy and scandal. The champion of the movement, however, was writer and critic John Ruskin (1819-1900). who. in addition to promoting the Gothic style, helped to reinforce the group's sense of moral commitment and social awareness. He envisaged art as a means of saving the human race and fulfilling the most important human aspirations. In contrast to the pretence and artifice of academic painting, Pre-Raphaelite art looked afresh at techniques used by artists before the time of Raphael. Studying nature in detail to rediscover its inner meaning, the Brotherhood sought to communicate with the forgotten sources of spirituality. However, the early purity of spirit was later lost.
 

 

 



 Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Proserpine (Jane Morris)
1874




Jane Burden Morris

 
Jane Burden
 

From Wikipedia
 

Jane Burden (October 19, 1839 – January 1914) was the embodiment of the Pre-Raphaelite ideal of beauty. She became the wife of William Morris and the inspiration, and possibly mistress, of Dante Gabriel Rossetti.She was born in Oxford. At the time of her birth, her father Robert Burden was a stableman and lived with his wife (Jane's mother), Ann Burden (formerly Maizey) at St. Helen's Passages, St. Peter in the East, Oxford. Jane's mother, who was illiterate, probably came to Oxford as a domestic servant. Little is known about Jane's childhood but it was clearly one of poverty and deprivation.In October 1857, Jane and her sister Elizabeth (known in the family as Bessie) were attending a performance in Oxford of the Drury Lane Theatre Company. Jane was noticed by the artists Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Edward Burne-Jones who were part of a group of artists painting murals in the Oxford Union based on Arthurian tales. Struck by Jane's beauty, they sought her to model for them. Jane initially sat mainly for Rossetti who needed a model for Queen Guinivere. After this, Jane sat to Morris who was working on an easel painting, La Belle Iseult (Tate Gallery).
During this period, Morris fell in love with Jane and they were engaged.Jane's education was extremely limited and she was probably intended to go into domestic service. After her engagement, Jane was privately educated. Her keen intelligence allowed her essentially to re-create herself. She was a voracious reader and became proficient in French and later Italian. She also became an accomplished pianist with a strong background in classical music. Her manners and speech became refined to an extent that contemporaries referred to her as "Queenly." Later in life, she would have no trouble moving in upper class circles and she appears to have been the model for Mrs Higgins in Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion (1914).
She married William Morris at St. Michael's Church, Oxford, on April 26, 1859. Her father was at that time described as a groom, in stables at 65 Holywell Street, Oxford.
Jane Burden and William Morris lived firstly at the Red House in Bexleyheath, Kent. While at there, they had two daughters, Jane Alice (Jenny) born January 1861 and Mary (May) (March 1862 – 1938), who was the editor of her father's works. They then lived for many years at Kelmscott Manor, on the Oxfordshire-Wiltshire borders, which is now open to the public. Jane became closely attached to Rossetti and may, in addition to being his muse, have been his lover.
In 1884, Jane met the poet and political activist Wilfrid Scawen Blunt at a houseparty given by her close friend Rosalind Howard (later Countess of Carlisle). There appears to have been an immediate attraction between the two. By 1887 at the latest, the pair had become lovers. Their sexual relationship would continue until 1894 and they remained close friends until Jane's death.

Jane Morris was an ardent supporter of Irish Home Rule.

William Morris died on 3 October 1896 at Kelmscott House, Hammersmith, London. Jane died on 26 January 1914 while staying at 5 Brock Street, Bath.

 

 

 






Elizabeth Siddal



Elizabeth Siddal
Self-portrait
1854
 



Elizabeth Siddal
Self-portrait


Elizabeth Siddal
 

From Wikipedia

 

Elizabeth Siddal (July 25, 1829 – February 11, 1862) was a British artist's model, poet and artist who was painted and drawn extensively by artists of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.
Siddal was perhaps the most important model to sit for the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Their ideas about feminine beauty were profoundly influenced by her, or rather she personified those ideals. She was Dante Gabriel Rossetti's model par excellence; almost all of his early paintings of women are portraits of her. She was also painted by Walter Deverell, William Holman Hunt, and John Everett Millais, and was the model for Millais' well known Ophelia (1852)
 

Model for the Pre-Raphaelites

Siddal, whose name was originally spelt 'Siddall' (it was Rossetti who dropped the second 'l') was first noticed by Deverell, while she was working as a milliner. Neither she nor her family had any artistic aspirations or interests. She was employed as a model by Deverell and through him was introduced to the Pre-Raphaelites. The nineteen year old with her tall thin frame and copper hair was the first of the Pre-Raphaelite stunners.
While posing for Millais' Ophelia (1852), Siddal had floated in a bathtub full of water to model the drowning Ophelia. Millais painted daily into the winter with Siddal modeling. He put lamps under the tub to warm the water. On one occasion the lamps went out and the water slowly became icy cold. Millais was absorbed by his painting and did not notice. Siddal did not complain. After this session she became very sick with a fever, and never fully recovered. Her father held Millais responsible, and forced him to pay compensation. It was long thought that she suffered from tuberculosis, but some historians now believe that an intestinal disorder was more likely. Others attribute her poor health to an addiction to laudenum. Whatever the case, Siddal never fully recovered and suffered from poor health from then on.
Elizabeth Siddal was the primary muse for Dante Gabriel Rossetti throughout most of his youth. After he met her he began to paint her and almost only her and stopped her from modelling for the other Pre-Raphaelites. These drawings and paintings culminated in Beata Beatrix, painted in 1863, one year after Elizabeth's death. She was used as a model for this painting which shows a praying Beatrice (from Dante Alighieri).
 

Life with Rossetti

After becoming engaged to Rossetti, Siddal began to study with him. In contrast to Rossetti's idealized paintings, Siddal's were harsh. This is very evident in her self portrait, pictured above. Rossetti painted and repainted her and drew countless sketches of her. His depictions show a beauty. Her self portrait shows much about the subject, but certainly not the floating beauty that Rossetti painted. This painting is historically very significant because it shows, through her own eyes, a beauty who was idealized by so many famous artists. In 1855 the art critic John Ruskin began to subsidize her career. Ruskin paid a generous yearly stipend in exchange for all drawings and paintings that she produced. Siddal produced many sketches but only a single painting. Her sketches are laid out in a fashion similar to Pre-Rapaelite compositions and tend to illustrate Arthurian legend and other idealized Medieval themes. Ruskin also admonished Rossetti in his letters for not marrying Siddal and giving her the security she needed. During this period Siddal also began to write poetry.
As Siddal came from a lower class family, Rossetti feared introducing her to his parents. "Lizzy" was also the victim of harsh criticism from Rossetti's sisters. The knowledge that the family would not approve the wedding contributed to Rossetti putting it off. Siddal also appears to have believed, with some justification, that Rossetti was always seeking to replace her with a younger muse, which contributed to her later depressive periods and illness.


Ill-health and death

Siddal travelled to Paris and Nice for several years for her health. She returned to England in 1860 to marry Rossetti. In the previous ten years he had been engaged to her and then broken it off at the last minute several times. Stress from those incidents had affected her. She was now severely depressed and her long illness had given her access to and addiction to laudanum. In 1861, Siddal became pregnant. She was overjoyed about this, but the pregnancy ended in a stillborn daughter. Siddal overdosed on laudanum shortly after becoming pregnant for a second time. Rossetti discovered the body. Although her death was ruled accidental by the coroner, there are suggestions that Rossetti found a suicide note. Consumed with grief and guilt Rossetti went to the see Holman Hunt who is supposed to have instructed him to burn the note – under the law at the time suicide was both illegal and immoral and would have brought a scandal on the family as well as barred Siddal from a Christian burial.
Death, however, was not her last adventure. Overcome with grief, Rossetti enclosed in Elizabeth's coffin a small journal containing the only copies he had of his many poems. He slid the book into Elizabeth's flowing red hair. In 1869, Rossetti was chronically addicted to drugs and alcohol. He convinced himself that he was going blind and couldn't paint. He began to write poetry again. Before publishing his newer poems he became obsessed with retrieving the poems he had slipped into Elizabeth's hair. Rossetti and his agent, the notorious Charles Augustus Howell, applied to the Home Secretary for an order to have her coffin exhumed to retrieve the manuscript. This was done in the dead of night so as to avoid public curiosity and attention, and Rossetti was not present. Howell, a notorious liar, reported to Rossetti that her corpse was remarkably well preserved and her delicate beauty intact. Her hair was said to have continued to grow after death so that the Coffin was filled with her coppery hair. The manuscript was retrieved although a worm had burrowed through the book so that it was difficult to read some of the poems.
Rossetti published the old poems with his newer ones; they were not well received by some critics because of their eroticism, and he was haunted by the exhumation through the rest of his life.

Rossetti's relationship with Siddal is also explored by Christina Rossetti in her poem "In an Artist's Studio".

 

   
 

__________
__________

 

 

Charles Lock Eastlake

(b Plymouth, 17 Nov 1793; d Pisa, 24 Dec 1865).

English painter, museum director, collector and writer. Fourth son of an Admiralty lawyer at Plymouth, he was educated at local grammar schools and then, briefly, at Charterhouse, Surrey. Determined to become a painter, he began work in 1809 as Benjamin Robert Haydon’s first pupil and as a student at the Royal Academy Schools in London. In 1815 he exhibited for the first time at the British Institution, visited Paris and studied the pictures in the Musée Napoléon. He achieved his first conspicuous success with a scene from contemporary history that he had himself witnessed, Napoleon on Board the Bellerophon in Plymouth Sound (1815; London, N. Mar. Mus.).
 


Charles Lock Eastlake
The Champion

1824
 

 


Charles Lock Eastlake
Classical landscape 

 

Charles Lock Eastlake
Christ Blessing Little Children

 

 


Charles Lock Eastlake
Napoleon Bonaparte

 

 


Charles Lock Eastlake

Foro di Traiano e Campidoglio

 

 


Charles Lock Eastlake

Il Foro di Traiano

 

 


Charles Lock Eastlake
Hagar and Ishmael

 

 


Charles Lock Eastlake
The Colosseum from the Esquiline
1822

 

 


Charles Lock Eastlake
The Colosseum from the Campo Vaccino

1822

 

 


Charles Lock Eastlake
Greek Girl

1827

 

 


Charles Lock Eastlake
Lord Byron's "Dream"

1827

 

 


Charles Lock Eastlake
Mrs Charles H. Bellenden Ker

1835

 

 


Charles Lock Eastlake
Christ Lamenting over Jerusalem

1846

 

 


Charles Lock Eastlake
The Escape of Francesco Novello di Carrara, with his Wife, from the Duke of Milan
1850

 

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__________

 

John Ruskin

born February 8, 1819, London, England
died January 20, 1900, Coniston,Lancashire


English critic of art, architecture, and society who was a gifted painter, a distinctive prose stylist, and an important example of the Victorian Sage, or Prophet: a writer of polemical prose who seeks to cause widespread cultural and social change.

Early life and influences

Ruskin was born into the commercial classes of the prosperous and powerful Britain of the years immediately following the Napoleonic Wars. His father, John James Ruskin, was a Scots wine merchant who had moved to London and made a fortune in the sherry trade. John Ruskin, an only child, was largely educated at home, where he was given a taste for art by his father's collecting of contemporary watercolours and a minute and comprehensive knowledge of the Bible by his piously Protestant mother.

This combination of the religious intensity of the Evangelical Revival and the artistic excitement of English Romantic painting laid the foundations of Ruskin's later views. In his formative years, painters such as J.M.W. Turner, John Constable, and John Sell Cotman were at the peak of their careers. At the same time religious writers and preachers such as Charles Simeon, John Keble, Thomas Arnold, and John Henry Newman were establishing the spiritual and ethical preoccupations that would characterize the reign of Queen Victoria. Ruskin's family background in the world of businesswas significant, too: it not only provided the means for his extensive travels to see paintings, buildings, and landscapesin Britain and continental Europe but also gave him an understanding of the newly rich, middle-class audience for which his books would be written.

Ruskin discovered the work of Turner through the illustrations to an edition of Samuel Rogers's poem Italy given him by a business partner of his father in 1833. By the mid-1830s he was publishing short pieces in both prose and verse in magazines, and in 1836 he was provoked into drafting a reply (unpublished) to an attack on Turner's painting by the art critic of Blackwood's Magazine. After five years at the University of Oxford, during which he won the Newdigate Prize for poetry but was prevented by ill health from sitting for an honours degree, Ruskin returned, in 1842, to his abandoned project of defending and explaining the late work of Turner.


Art criticism

In 1843 Ruskin published the first volume of Modern Painters, a book that would eventually consist of five volumes and occupy him for the next 17 years. His first purpose was to insist on the “truth” of the depiction of Nature in Turner's landscape paintings. Neoclassical critics had attacked the later work of Turner, with its proto-Impressionist concern for effects of light and atmosphere, for mimetic inaccuracy, and for a failure to represent the “general truth” that had been an essential criterion of painting in the age of Sir Joshua Reynolds. Drawing on his serious amateur interests in geology, botany, and meteorology, Ruskin made it his business to demonstrate in detail that Turner's work was everywhere based on a profound knowledge of the local and particular truths of natural form. One after another, Turner's “truth of tone,” “truth of colour,” “truth of space,” “truth of skies,” “truth of earth,” “truth of water,” and “truth of vegetation” were minutely considered, in a laborious project that would not be completed until the appearance of the fifth and final volume of Modern Painters in 1860.

This shift of concern from general to particular conceptions of truth was a key feature of Romantic thought, and Ruskin's first major achievement was thus to bring the assumptions of Romanticism to the practice of art criticism. By 1843 avant-garde painters had been working in this new spirit for several decades, but criticism and public understanding had lagged behind. More decisively than any previous writer, Ruskin brought 19th-century English painting and 19th-century English art criticism into sympathetic alignment. As he did so, he alerted readers to the fact that they had, in Turner, one of the greatest painters in the history of Western art alive and working among them in contemporary London, and, in the broader school of English landscape painting, a major modern art movement.

Ruskin did this in a prose style peculiarly well adapted to the discussion of the visual arts in an era when there was limited reproductive illustration and no easy access to well-stocked public art galleries. In these circumstances the critic was obliged to create in words an effective sensory and emotional substitute for visual experience. Working in the tradition of the Romantic poetic prose of Charles Lamb and Thomas De Quincey, though more immediately influenced by the descriptive writing of Sir Walter Scott, the rhetoric of the Bible, and the blank verse of William Wordsworth, Ruskin vividly evoked the effect on the human eye and sensibility both of Turner's paintings and of the actual landscapes that Turner and other artists had sought to represent.

In the process Ruskin introduced the newly wealthy commercial and professional classes of the English-speaking world to the possibility of enjoying and collecting art. Since most of them had been shaped by an austerely puritanical religious tradition, Ruskin knew that they would be suspicious of claims for painting that stressed its sensual or hedonic qualities. Instead, he defined painting as “a noble and expressive language, invaluable as the vehicle of thought, but by itself nothing.” What that language expressed, in Romantic landscape painting, was a Wordsworthian sense of a divine presence in Nature: a morally instructive natural theology in which God spoke through physical “types.” Conscious of the spiritual significance of the natural world, young painters should “go to Nature in all singleness of heart…having no other thoughts but how best to penetrate her meaning, and remember her instruction; rejecting nothing, selecting nothing, and scorning nothing.”

Three years later, in the second volume of Modern Painters (1846), Ruskin would specifically distinguish this strenuously ethical or Theoretic conception of art from the Aesthetic, un didactic, or art-for-art's-sake definition that would be its great rival in the second half of the 19th century. Despite his friendships with individual Aesthetes, Ruskin would remain the dominant spokesman for a morally and socially committed conception of art throughout his lifetime.

Art, architecture, and society

After the publication of the first volume of Modern Painters in 1843, Ruskin became aware of another avant-garde artistic movement: the critical rediscovery of the painting of the Gothic Middle Ages. He wrote about these Idealist painters (especially Giotto, Fra Angelico, and Benozzo Gozzoli) at the end of the second volume of Modern Painters,and he belatedly added an account of them to the third edition of the first volume in 1846. These medieval religious artists could provide, he believed, in a way in which the Dutch, French, and Italian painters of the 17th and 18th centuries could not, an inspiring model for the art of the “modern” age.

This medievalist enthusiasm was one reason that Ruskin was so ready to lend his support to the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (PRB), a group of young English artists formed in 1848 to reject the Neoclassical assumptions of contemporary art schools. Ruskin published an enthusiastic pamphlet about the PRB (in which he misleadingly identified them as the natural heirs of Turner) in 1851, wrote letters to the Times in 1851 and 1854 to defend them from their critics, and recommended their work in his Edinburgh Lectures of 1853 (published 1854).

But medievalism was even more important in the field of architecture, where the Gothic Revival was as direct an expression of the new Romantic spirit as the landscape painting of Turner or Constable. Ruskin had been involved in a major Gothic Revival building project in 1844, when George Gilbert Scott redesigned Ruskin's parents' parish church, St. Giles's Camberwell. In 1848, newly married to Euphemia (Effie) Gray, Ruskin went on a honeymoon tour of the Gothic churches of northern France and began to write his first major book on buildings, The Seven Lamps of Architecture (1849). Conceived in the disturbing context of the European revolutions of 1848, the book lays down seven moral principles (or “Lamps”) to guide architectural practice, one of which, “The Lamp of Memory,” articulates the scrupulous respect for the original fabric of old buildings that would inspire William Morris and, through him, the conservation movement of the 20th century. In November Ruskin went abroad again, this time to Venice to research a more substantial book on architecture.

The Stones of Venice was published in three volumes, one in 1851 and two more in 1853. In part it is a laboriously researched history of Venetian architecture, based on long months of direct study of the original buildings, then in a condition of serious neglect and decay. But it is also a book of moral and social polemic with the imaginative structure of a Miltonic or Words worthian sublime epic. Ruskin's narrative charts the fall of Venice from its medieval Eden, through the impiety and arrogance (as Ruskin saw it) of the Renaissance,to its modern condition of political impotence and social frivolity. As such, the book is a distinguished late example of the political medievalism found in the work of William Cobbett, Robert Southey, Thomas Carlyle, and the Young England movement of the 1840s. Ruskin differs from these predecessors both in the poetic power of his prose and in his distinctive—and widely influential—insistence that art and architecture are, necessarily, the direct expression of the social conditions in which they were produced. Here, as elsewhere, the Aesthetic movement, with its view of art as a rebellious alternative to the social norm and its enthusiasm for Renaissance texts and artifacts, stands in direct contrast to Ruskin's Theoretic views.

The Stones of Venice was influential in other ways as well. Itscelebration of Italian Gothic encouraged the use of foreign models in English Gothic Revival architecture. By 1874 Ruskin would regret the extent to which architects had “dignified our banks and drapers' shops with Venetian tracery.” But, for good or ill, his writing played a key part in establishing the view that the architectural style of Venice, the great maritime trading nation of the medieval world, wasparticularly appropriate for buildings in modern Britain. The other enduring influence derived, more subtly, from a single chapter in the second volume, “The Nature of Gothic.” There Ruskin identified “imperfection” as an essential feature of Gothic art, contrasting it with the mechanical regularity of Neoclassical buildings and modern mass production. Gothic architecture, he believed, allowed a significant degree of creative freedom and artistic fulfillment to the individual workman. We could not, and should not, take pleasure in an object that had not itself been made with pleasure. In this proposition lay the roots both of Ruskin's own quarrel with industrial capitalism and of the Arts and Crafts movement of the later 19th century.


Cultural criticism

Turner died in 1851. Ruskin's marriage was dissolved, on grounds of nonconsummation, in 1854, leaving the former Effie Gray free to marry the Pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais. Ruskin withdrew somewhat from society. He traveled extensively in Europe and, from 1856 to 1858, took on a considerable body of administrative work as the chief artistic executor of Turner's estate. He contributed both financially and physically to the construction of a major Gothic Revival building: Benjamin Woodward's Oxford University Museum. In 1856 he published the third and fourth volumes of Modern Painters, with their penetrating inquiry into the reasons for the predominance of landscape painting in 19th-century art and their invention of the important critical term “pathetic fallacy.” His annual Academy Notes (a series of pamphlets issued by an English publisher from 1855 to 1859) sustained his reputation as a persuasive commentator on contemporary painting. But by 1858 Ruskin was beginning to move on from the specialist criticism of art and architecture to a wider concern with the cultural condition of his age. His growing friendship with the historian and essayist Thomas Carlyle contributed to this process. Like Carlyle, Ruskin began to adopt the “prophetic” stance, familiar from the Bible, of a voice crying from the wilderness and seeking to call a lapsed people back into the paths of righteousness.

This marginal role as a disenchanted outsider both legitimized and, to an extent, required a ferocity and oddness that would be conspicuous features of Ruskin's later career. In 1858 Ruskin lectured on “The Work of Iron in Nature, Art and Policy” (published in The Two Paths, 1859), a text in which both the radical-conservative temper and the symbolic method of his later cultural criticism are clearly established. Beginning as an art critic, Ruskin contrasts the exquisite sculptured iron grilles of medieval Verona with the mass-produced metal security railings with which modern citizens protect their houses. The artistic contrast is, of course, also a social contrast, and Ruskin goes rapidly beyond this to a symbolic assertion of the “iron” values involved in his definition of the just society. By wearing the fetters of a benignly neofeudalist social order, men and women, Ruskin believed, might lead lives of greater aesthetic fulfillment, in an environment less degraded by industrial pollution.

These values are persistently restated in Ruskin's writings of the 1860s, sometimes in surprising ways. Unto This Last and Munera Pulveris (1862 and 1872 as books, though published in magazines in 1860 and 1862–63) are attacks on the classical economics of Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill. Neither book makes any significant technical contribution to the study of economics (though Ruskin thought otherwise); both memorably express Ruskin's moral outrage at the extent to which the materialist and utilitarian ethical assumptions implicit in this new technique for understandinghuman behaviour had come to be accepted as normative. Sesame and Lilies (1865) would become notorious in the late20th century as a stock example of Victorian male chauvinism. In fact, Ruskin was using the conventional construction of the feminine, as pacific, altruistic, and uncompetitive, to articulate yet another symbolic assertion of his anticapitalist social model. The Crown of Wild Olive (1866, enlarged in 1873) collects some of the best specimens of Ruskin's Carlylean manner, notably the lecture “Traffic” of 1864, which memorably draws its audience's attention to the hypocrisy manifested by their choice of Gothic architecture for their churches but Neoclassical designs for their homes.

The dogmatic Protestantism of Ruskin's childhood had been partially abandoned in 1858, after an “unconversion” experience in Turin. Ten years later, in a moving lecture on “The Mystery of Life and Its Arts,” Ruskin reflected on his returning sense of the spiritual and transcendent. In The Queen of the Air (1869) he attempted to express his old concept of a divine power in Nature in new terms calculated for an age in which assent to the Christian faith was no longer automatic or universal. Through an account of the Greek myth of Athena, Ruskin sought to suggest an enduring human need for—and implicit recognition of—the supernatural authority on which the moral stresses of his artistic, political, and cultural views depend.

His father's death in 1864 had left Ruskin a wealthy man. He used his wealth, in part, to promote idealistic social causes, notably the Guild of St. George, a pastoral community first planned in 1871 and formally constituted seven years later. From 1866 to 1875 he was unhappily in love with a woman 30years his junior, Rose La Touche, whose physical and mental deterioration caused him acute distress. During these years he began, himself, to show signs of serious psychological illness. In 1871 he bought Brantwood, a house in the English Lake District (now a museum of his work) and lived there for the rest of his life.

Ruskin's appointment as Slade Professor of Fine Art at Oxford in 1870 was a welcome encouragement at a troubled stage of his career, and in the following year he launched Fors Clavigera, a one-man monthly magazine in which, from 1871 to 1878 and 1880 to 1884 he developed his idiosyncratic cultural theories. Like his successive series of Oxford lectures (1870–79 and 1883–84), Fors is an unpredictable mixture of striking insights, powerful rhetoric, self-indulgence, bigotry, and occasional incoherence. As a by-product of the Fors project, however, Ruskin wrote his lastmajor work: his autobiography, Praeterita (1885–89). Unfinished, shamelessly partial (it omits, for example, all mention of his marriage), and chronologically untrustworthy, it provides a subtle and memorable history of the growth of Ruskin's distinctive sensibility.

Assessment

In November 1878 the painter James McNeill Whistler's action for libel against Ruskin—brought after Ruskin's attack on the impressionist manner of a Whistler Nocturne—came totrial. The trial made the conflict between Ruskin's moral viewof art and Whistler's Aestheticism a matter of wide public interest. Whistler, awarded only a farthing's damages and no costs, was driven into bankruptcy. Ruskin suffered no financial ill effects, but his reputation as an art critic was seriously harmed. After this date there was a growing tendency to see him as an enemy of modern art: blinkered, eccentric, and out-of-date.

Modernist artists and critics rejected Ruskin. His stress on the moral, social, and spiritual purposes of art and his Naturalist theory of visual representation were unpopular in the era of Impressionism, Cubism, and Dada. Gothic Revival buildings became deeply unfashionable; the architecture critic Geoffrey Scott, in 1914, would dismiss Ruskin's architectural theory as “The Ethical Fallacy.”

Since then, Ruskin has gradually been rediscovered. His formative importance as a thinker about ecology, about the conservation of buildings and environments, about Romanticpainting, about art education, and about the human cost of the mechanization of work became steadily more obvious. The outstanding quality of his own drawings and watercolours (modestly treated in his lifetime as working notes or amateur sketches) was increasingly acknowledged, as was his role as a stimulus to the flowering of British painting, architecture, and decorative art in the second half of the 19th century.

Above all, Ruskin was rediscovered as a great writer of English prose. Frequently self-contradictory, hectoringly moralistic, and insufficiently informed, Ruskin was nonetheless gifted with exceptional powers of perception and expression. These are the gifts that the poet Matthew Arnold acknowledged when he spoke of “the genius, the feeling, the temperament” of the descriptive writing in the fourth volume of Modern Painters. This unusual capacity to see things and to say what he saw makes Ruskin's work not just an important episode in the history of taste but also an enduring and distinctive part of English literature.

Nicholas Shrimpton
 

   
 

John Ruskin
Portrait of Rose la Touche

 

 

John Ruskin
The garden of San Miniato
1845

 

 

John Ruskin
Tower of the Cathedral at Sens

 

 


John Ruskin
The Pulpit in the Church of S. Ambrogio

 

 

John Ruskin
Study of the Rocks and Ferns, Crossmouth

 

 


John Ruskin
Head of Lake Geneva
 

 

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Mary Macomber

born August 21, 1861, Fall River,Massachusetts, U.S.
died February 4, 1916, Boston


American artist remembered for her highly symbolic, dreamlike paintings.

Macomber studied drawing with a local artist from about 1880 to 1883, then at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston for a year, until ill health cut short her studies. After her recovery she studied briefly with Frank Duveneck and then opened a studio in Boston. In 1889 her painting Ruth was exhibited in the National Academy of Design show in New York City. Over the next 13 years she exhibited 25 more paintings at the National Academy and was a frequent exhibitor at other major museums and galleries.

Macomber's symbolic, allegorical, and decorative panels, revealing the influence of the Pre-Raphaelites, were widely admired by her contemporaries. Among her more celebrated works are Love Awakening Memory (1892), Love's Lament (1893), St. Catherine (1897), The Hour Glass (1900), The LaceJabot (1900; a self-portrait), Night and Her Daughter Sleep (1903), and Memory Comforting Sorrow (1905). In the later years of her career she also devoted much time to portraiture.
 

 


Macomber
Night and Sleep

 

see collections:

William Holman Hunt

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

John Everett Millais

Ford Madox Brown

Edward Coley Burne-Jones

Thomas Cooper Gotch

Arthur Hughes

John William Waterhouse

 

 

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