Death of Sir Richard MacCormac


It is with great sadness we share the news of the death of Sir Richard MacCormac the Architect of the Ruskin Library.

In 2010 he revisited the Ruskin Library and gave a talk on the ideas behind the design and features of the building. A shortened version of the presentation along with photographs of the talk and the building is available at


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‘This Mountain Paradise': Ruskin on the Continent, 1835

12 May – 19 September 2014

By the time of the Ruskin family’s continental tour lasting from 2 June to 10 December 1835, the sixteen-year-old John Ruskin (1819-1900) was already a seasoned traveller. Taken by his parents John James and Margaret Ruskin to Scotland, the Lake District, Wales, the west of England and Kent between 1826 and 1832, he had also been with them to Paris and Brussels (including the field of Waterloo, in 1825) and across the Alps as far as Milan and Genoa in 1833. The 1835 itinerary helped to establish what would become Ruskin’s ‘old road,’ a familiar route through France and Switzerland into Italy.

1996P1437 Mount Pilatus

Both literature, especially the poems of Byron, and art were now important motivations. In 1832 Ruskin had received a birthday gift of Samuel Rogers’s Italy with engraved illustrations after J.M.W. Turner, including one of Venice, which now became a specific goal.   As a successful wine merchant, John James Ruskin could afford to take the family abroad in Turner’s footsteps, even taking their own coach.

The largest number of the 100 or more existing drawings made by Ruskin on the tour now form part of the Whitehouse Collection in the Ruskin Library. The majority are of Switzerland, which he later called “this mountain Paradise.” Mostly in pencil, some were engraved as illustrations for The Poetry of Architecture, his first important piece of writing, which appeared in The Architectural Magazine in 1837-38. There are also a few known attempts to turn drawings into finished watercolours: these are effectively Ruskin’s earliest works in the medium; of the handful that have been identified, two are in this exhibition.

Posted in Exhibitions

John Ruskin: Artist and Observer

National Gallery of Canada

14 February – 11 May

The Ruskin Foundation is a major lender to this exhibition, which will also be shown at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh from 4 July − 28 September 2014

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John Ruskin – Photographer and Draughtsman

The Ruskin Library has loaned 40 drawings and photographs to this exhibition

1996D110 croplightenedJohn Ruskin – Photographer and Draughtsman

Watts Gallery, Compton, near Guildford

4 February to 1 June 2014

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‘The Master’s Hand': drawings by G.F. Watts

27 January – 17 April 2014

The Ruskin Library is swapping exhibitions with the Watts Gallery at Compton, near Guildford.  Established in 1904, the Gallery reached the final of the BBC2 Restoration series in 2006 and has since undergone major refurbishment.  It commemorates the great Victorian artist George Frederic Watts OM RA (1817-1904), recognised at home and abroad as a painter who could preach eternal truths and provoke social reform.  A lifelong friend of John Ruskin, he was a versatile painter and sculptor who has been called ‘England’s Michelangelo,’ achieving fame in several genres: history painting; symbolic representations of profound themes, such as Hope; portraits of leading writers, artists and politicians (especially in his ‘Hall of Fame’ series); and powerful sculptures, from Clytie to Physical Energy.

Watts was a superb draughtsman, and the new Ruskin Library exhibition consists of 40 drawings covering all aspects and periods of his work, from youthful exercises and Italian landscapes to preparatory studies for some of his most famous paintings, including Love and Death and The All-Pervading.  Portrait drawings include one of the actress Ellen Terry, whom Watts married in 1864, and Mrs Leslie Stephen, mother of Virginia Woolf.

In return, the Ruskin Foundation has lent 20 drawings and 20 daguerreotype photographs to the Watts Gallery, for an exhibition John Ruskin – Photographer and Draughtsman, which runs from 4 February to 1 June.

COMWG352 clytie
G.F. Watts: Study for Clytie. (c) Watts Gallery
Posted in Exhibitions

‘Fragments of Nature’

A new exhibition at the Ruskin Library, running until 13th December

Carrying on from the successful ‘natural world’ themed exhibitions, ‘Ruskin’s Flora’ (2011) and ‘Sketching from Nature’ (2008) we return once again to this rich and wonderful theme. ‘Fragments of Nature’ revisits elements of drawing from the natural world, looking at the joy of landscape as well as detailed studies of flora and fauna. Included in the exhibition are drawings by John Ruskin, his family, and friends. Sketches and notes from private letters and diaries will also be included along with less frequently exhibited works from the collection.

1996P3044 100dpi

Posted in Exhibitions

Library Edition of the Works of John Ruskin

Volumes 22, 23, 24 and 26 have all recently been added to the website

Only volumes 31 and 34 remain to be done

Posted in Library Edition of the Works of John Ruskin