Van Akin Burd (1914-2015)

Van Burd We have recently received the sad news of the death, on November 7th,  of Van Akin Burd.

In the history of Ruskin scholarship, Van Burd takes the palm for longevity, having published over six decades since his first article on Modern Painters in 1953.  His final piece, in the Spring 2014 Ruskin Review and Bulletin, is undoubtedly unique in the bibliography as the work of a centenarian.

Outstanding among Van’s achievements are the three great editions of letters which not only brought some of Ruskin’s most interesting correspondence to a wide audience but brilliantly illuminated three phases of his life: the young man of genius, in The Ruskin Family Letters, 1801-1843 (1973); the eccentric but passionate educator and nympholept, in The Winnington Letters (1969); and the saddened sage mourning for lost love, in Christmas Story: John Ruskin’s Venetian Letters of 1876-77 (1990).   Each edition is shot through with Van’s reverence for his subject combined with modesty, humanity and humour: precision with just a hint of mischief.

Ruskin once said of Americans that ‘as a nation, they are wholly undesirous of rest, and incapable of it.’  He could not have imagined how prophetic those words would be in describing one of the most dedicated not just of Ruskin scholars, but of true Ruskinians.  May he now rest in peace.

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Ever Present Help: Ruskin’s Artists

Open until 11 December 2015

‘Ever Present Help: Ruskin’s Artists’ includes a comprehensive display of the work of Victorian artists, famous and obscure, who assisted Ruskin at different times throughout his life. The Whitehouse Collection holds a wealth of work by artists who worked closely with Ruskin including Albert Goodwin, John Wharlton Bunney, John Everett Millais, TM Rooke, Angelo Alessandri, Arthur Severn, Edward Burne Jones, WG Collingwood and many more. This wonderful exhibition is packed full of colour and information on Ruskin and his artist helpers.


Arthur Severn: The Salute, Venice, showery weather

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Ruskin Library open for Heritage Open Days

1996P0917 Fribourg (c) Ruskin Foundation (Ruskin Library, Lancaster University)

John Ruskin, Red Tower, Fribourg (1856)

The Ruskin Library is taking part in Heritage Open Days again this year and will be open between 11am and 4pm on Saturday 12th September.

There will be still life drawing materials available all day in the gallery with a lovely selection of natural objects to chose from. Try your hand at copying some of John Ruskin’s tower drawings or sketches, or just come and look at our lovely current exhibition ‘Towers and Turrets’.

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Ruskin’s Zipporah on her travels again.

Ruskin’s famous full size copy of Botticelli’s ‘Zipporah’ (1874) 1996P0880 Zipporah
travels to Berlin to feature in The Botticelli Renaissance at the Gemäldegalerie, Kulturforum, 24 September 2015 – 24 January 2016.

The exhibition will then travel to the V&A in London and will open as Botticelli Reimagined  5 March 2016 – 3 July 2016.  The exhibition will explore the ways that artists and designers have reinterpreted Botticelli. It will include over 50 original works by Botticelli, alongside works by artists such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones, William Morris, René Magritte, Elsa Schiaparelli, Andy Warhol and Cindy Sherman.


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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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