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Who Was John Ruskin?

John Ruskin was undoubtedly a fascinating character, one of the most famous art critics of the Victorian era. His many talents included philosophy, philanthropy, and writing. His books spanned many genres, including geology, myths, and literature.

John Ruskin 1863

Ruskin's Personal Life

Ruskin had a complex personality and today would be described as bipolar, as he often suffered bouts of depression. For long periods, the state of his mental health rendered him powerless to do anything. His first relationship was a failure. He was said to be disgusted by his wife's body, leading to a divorce on the grounds of consummation not having happened. A second love affair was marred by tragedy as the object of his affections died of anorexia at the age of 27.

Ruskin's Books

A prolific writer, Ruskin, published several important works on a great many subjects. His first volume of Modern Painters was a very influential piece, written when he was only 24. His alternative views on popular artists brought him to the attention of the art establishment. The Stones of Venice was published in 1851 and discussed Ruskin's love of Venice and its architecture. His beliefs that the classical style represented a need to control civilisation are still studied today.

There is much to learn about John Ruskin, and there is a museum dedicated to him, located in the Lake District. It houses many of his watercolours, sketchbooks, and artefacts from his collection.