New Exhibition – Towers and Turrets

Towers and Turrets

Ruskin’s first concerted effort to observe details of towers was in the years 1832 – 1837.

Careful observation of all aspect of ‘the architecture of nations‘ resulted in one of his earliest published works The Poetry of Architecture, published in parts in the Architectural Magazine 1837 and 1838. His tour of 1835 and 1837 produced copious studies of church towers and market square across Britain and Europe, and this collection holds a wealth of these early works. Later tours abroad saw an emerging interest in detailed studies of the church architecture, such as his study of Rouen Cathedral, and a love of Swiss and German towns. The towers of Fribourg, the walls of Lucerne, the beauty of Baden appear again and again through the vast range and diversity of his interests. Towers and turrets remain a constant theme throughout his work whether as individual studies or as part of the wider landscape.

Open until 30 September 2015

Tower and Wall, Fribourf

Tower and Wall, Fribourg

Tower at Thun

Tower at Thun

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Ruskin Review and Bulletin

The latest edition of the Ruskin Review and Bulletin is now available!  It includes Sara Stevenson writing on Philip Gilbert Hamerton  and Malcolm Hardman’s ‘Who is Silvia?’.

To subscribe, go to

or, if you want to buy this edition only, please contact the Ruskin Library.

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Gallery Closure – Update

We’re pleased to say that the Gallery is now open again!

Until May 27 – Returned Triumphant: loans to the exhibition ‘John Ruskin, Artist and Observer

Opening June 1 – Towers and Turrets

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Gallery Closure

The Gallery at the Ruskin Library is CLOSED for refurbishment and will reopen on Thursday 7 May.

The Reading Room is open by appointment as normal.

It is possible that work will be completed earlier than this date. Please contact the Ruskin Library for updates – please contact us at or 01524 593587 to check.

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Carrying off the Palaces

Last week saw the launch of a superb book by Ken and Jenny Jacobson, Carrying Off the Palaces: John Ruskin’s Lost Daguerreotypes, Quaritch, 2015

The book begins with the astounding story of discovery of long-lost daguerreotypes.  The earliest form of permanent photography, in the form of one-off images produced on small metal plates, held a fascination for Ruskin between 1845 and 1858.   A lot described as a mahogany box containing 19th century photographs on metal, with an estimated value of £80, was bought by the collectors and photographic historians Ken and Jenny Jacobson for £75,000 at a sale in Penrith in 2006.  After nine years of research and the conservation of the 188 daguerreotypes, the Jacobsons have produced a magnificent account, together with a full catalogue of all 325 Ruskin daguerreotypes known to date, including those held by the Ruskin Foundation at the Ruskin Library, Lancaster University.

The Ruskin Library holds 125 of Ruskin’s daguerreotypes, conserved between 2002 and 2005 with the aid of the Heritage Lottery Fund. These were purchased by John Howard Whitehouse in 1933 for £5 from Stevens and Brown, literary and art agents. Ralph Brown attended the Brantwood sale in July 1931, and purchased many items for Whitehouse, but also made other purchases for his firm, which he often resold at great profit. An annotated sales catalogue in this collection indicates that Brown purchased lots 134 and 320, two boxes tentatively identified in the Jacobsons’ book.

Lot 134 – described as ‘Mahogany Case with brass handles containing large quantity of photographic plates’, then in the Study – was sold on the first day of the sale for 6 shillings. Lot 320, from the Old Dining Room, was included in day two and listed as ‘Mahogany Brass fitted Box with numerous photograph frames’; it sold for 10 shillings. Both were bought by Brown, with whom Whitehouse had many dealings over the years.  Why he acquired only one of the lots, of 125 daguerreotypes accompanied by a brass-handled mahogany box with ‘Tuscany 1846’ on the lid, remains unexplained.  The recently discovered daguerreotypes, many in a box labelled ‘Venice’, can be presumed to be the second lot, having remained in Cumbria unappreciated for over 70 years.

The staff of the Ruskin Library have enjoyed working with Ken and Jenny in the course of their research, and look forward to reading the completed work in this wonderful book.

St Marks, Venice (Ruskin Foundation (Ruskin Libtary, Lancaster University))

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Ruskin Review and Bulletin

On Sale now!

The latest edition of the Ruskin Review and Bulletin is available now – the Ruskin Library can give you more details.

For more information – and to take out a subscription for the next volume – go to

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Returned triumphant: Loans to the exhibition John Ruskin, Artist and Observer

Returned triumphant: watercolours and drawings lent to the exhibition John Ruskin: Artist and Observer

National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 14 February – 11 May 2014
Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, 4 July – 28 September

The Ruskin Library (Ruskin Foundation) was the largest single lender to the recent exhibition of Ruskin drawings and daguerreotypes, the most comprehensive since the Tate Britain centenary exhibition in 2000.  This reflects the standing of the Ruskin Library in holding the most important collection of Ruskin’s work in the world.

All 49 loans (out of 132 items) are shown in this display, including ten of the twelve daguerreotype photographs used in the exhibition to emphasise Ruskin’s concentration on drawing and recording what he saw, as a means of understanding both nature and human endeavour, especially in the finest Gothic architecture of northern Europe.

Several of the most celebrated works from the Whitehouse Collection are displayed, including The Walls of Lucerne (1866), Vineyard Walk, Lucca (1874) and The North-West Porch of St. Mark’s, Venice (1877).  This is a rare chance to see these together, alongside others covering the whole range of Ruskin’s life and interests, over nearly half a century.

1996P1206 Chamonix, Mer de Glace

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