JOHN RUSKIN (8/02/1819-20/01/1900) was the leading English art critic of the Victorian Era, also an art patron, draughtsman, water colourist, a prominent social thinker and philanthropist. He wrote on subjects, ranging from geology to architecture, myth to ornithology, literature to education, botany to political economy. His writing styles and literature forms, were equally varied. Ruskin penned essays and treatises, poetry and lecture, travel guides and manuals, and, even, a fairy tale.
The elaborate style, that characterised his earliest writing on art, was later superseded by a preference for plainer language, designed to communicate his ideas –more effectively. In all of his writing, he emphasised the connection between nature, art and society. He was hugely influential, in the latter half of the 19th Century, and up to the first World War. Today, his ideas and concerns are widely recognised as having anticipated interest in environmental sustainability and craft.
He argued that the principal role of the artist is TRUE TO NATURE. From the 1850s, he championed the Pre-Raphaelites, who were influenced by his ideas. UNTO HIS LAST (1860, 1862) marked the shift in emphasis. In 1869, Ruskin became the 1st SLADE PROFESSOR of FINE ART at the University of Oxford, where he established the RUSKIN SCHOOL OF DRAWING. In 1871, he began his monthly “letters to the workmen and labourers of Great Britain”, published under the title FORS CLAVIGERA (1871-1884). In the course of tis complex and deeply personal work, he developed the principles, underlying his ideal society. As a result, he founded he GUILD OF SAINT GEORGE, an organisation that endures today.
Some of his sayings :
(1) SUNSHINE is DELICIOUS, RAIN is REFRESHING, Wind BRACES US UP, SNOW is EXHILIRATING; there is no such thing as bad weather, only DIFFERENT KINDS OF GOOD WEATHER.
(2) A little thought and a little kindness, are often worth more than a great deal of money.
(3) The essence of lying is in deception, not in words.
(4) Endurance is nobler than strength, and patience than beauty.
(5) When love and skill work together, EXPECT A MASTERPIECE.
(6) There are no such things as FLOWERS, there are only GLADDENED LEAVES.