John Ruskin

(1819-1900 / England)

John Ruskin
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John Ruskin (8 February 1819 – 20 January 1900) was an English art critic and social thinker, also remembered as a poet and artist. His essays on art and architecture were extremely influential in the Victorian and Edwardian eras.

Ruskin first came to widespread attention for his support for the work of J. M. W. Turner and his defence of naturalism in art. He subsequently put his weight behind the Pre-Raphaelite movement. His later writings turned increasingly to complex and personal explorations of the interconnection of cultural, social and moral issues, and were influential on the development of Christian socialism. more »

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  • Of all the things that oppress me, this sense of the evil working of nature herself—my disgust at her barbarity—clumsiness—darkness—bitter mockery of herself—is the most desol...
    John Ruskin (1819-F1900), British art critic, author. Letter, April 3, 1871. quoted in Ruskin Today, sct. 115, ed. Kenneth Clark (1964).
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  • Men are more evanescent than pictures, yet one sorrows for lost friends, and pictures are my friends. I have none others. I am never long enough with men to attach myself to them; and whatever feeling...
    John Ruskin (1819-1900), British art critic, author. letter, Jan. 28, 1852, to his father. quoted in Ruskin Today, sct. 36, ed. Kenneth Clark (1964).
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  • ''Life being very short, and the quiet hours of it few, we ought to waste none of them in reading valueless books.''
    John Ruskin (1819-1900), British art critic, author. Sesame and Lilies, preface (1865).
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  • ''How long most people would look at the best book before they would give the price of a large turbot for it?''
    John Ruskin (1819-1900), British art critic, author. repr. in The Works of John Ruskin, vol. 18, eds. E.T. Cook and Alexander Weddesburn (1905). Sesam...
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  • ''You might sooner get lightning out of incense smoke than true action or passion out of your modern English religion.''
    John Ruskin (1819-1900), British art critic, author. Sesame and Lilies, lecture 1 (1865).
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Best Poem of John Ruskin


Faint from the bell the ghastly echoes fall,
That grates within the grey cathedral tower;
Let me not enter through the portal tall,
Lest the strange spirit of the moonless hour
Should give a life to those pale people, who
Lie in their fretted niches, two and two,
Each with his head on pillowy stone reposed,
And his hands lifted, and his eyelids closed.

From many a mouldering oriel, as to flout,
Its pale, grave brow of ivy-tressed stone,
Comes the incongruous laugh, and revel shout-
Above, some solitary casement, thrown
Wide open to the ...

Read the full of Night