Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Picture of the Week No.4 - John Ruskin

A few days back in the gallery between all of the Christmas and New Year festivities and just in time for another picture of the week. I've been thinking about paintings of architectural details after seeing Sickert and Sargent's studies of Venice at the Fitzwilliam recently and so this week I've chosen a charming and atmospheric study by John Ruskin, who wrote about the architecture of that city in the Stones of Venice(1851), expanding on the thoughts he set out in the earlier The Seven Lamps of Architecture (1849) on the truth of Gothic and Medieval architecture.

JOHN RUSKIN (1819-1900)
Abbeville, 1868

ink and wash and pencil heightened with white on buff coloured paper, 49 ´ 35.4 cm
inscribed: J. Ruskin 1868 Abbeville

Accession no: P.206

In 1868 Ruskin spent seven weeks in Abbeville in Normandy and drew intensively while there, recording old buildings and Gothic churches with the care and attention to detail that recall the work of one of his boyhood heroes, Samuel PROUT.

In his autobiography he wrote, 'My most intense happinesses have of course been among the mountains. But for cheerful, unalloyed, unwearying pleasure, the getting in sight of Abbeville on a fine summer afternoon, jumping out in the courtyard of the Hôtel de l’Europe, and rushing down the street to see St. Wulfran again before the sun was off the towers, are things to cherish the past for, - to the end'. (E.T. Cook and A. Wedderburn (eds.), The Works of John Ruskin, 39 vols, 1903-12, vol. VI, p.238).

PROVENANCE: P&D Colnaghi Ltd, from whom purchased by Gallery, April 1958.
EXHIBITIONS: Watercolours and Drawings from The Cecil Higgins Art Gallery, Bedford, London, Thos. Agnew & Sons Ltd, 1962, no.27; Watercolours from the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery, Bedford, Norwich, Norwich Castle Museum, 1965, no.49.

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