John Ruskin (Critical Lives)
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Ballantyne examines a crucial aspect of Ruskin’s thinking: the notion that art and architecture have moral value. Telling the story of Ruskin’s childhood and enduring devotion to his parents—who fostered his career as a writer on art and architecture—he explores the circumstances that led to Ruskin’s greatest works, such as Modern Painters, The Seven Lamps of Architecture, The Stones of Venice, and Unto This Last. He follows Ruskin through his altruistic ventures with the urban poor, to whom he taught drawing, motivated by a profound conviction that art held the key to living a worthwhile life. Ultimately, Ballantyne weaves Ruskin’s story into a larger one about Victorian society, a time when the first great industrial cities took shape and when art could finally reach beyond the wealthy elite and touch the lives of everyday people.
coming typhoon (or whirlwind) resonates with the biblical proverb, ‘For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind’.32 It has passed into ordinary usage as ‘reaping the whirlwind’, which suggests that a major calamity has been brought on by its victims. ‘Typhon’ was also the name of the Greek god of winds, so there is a suggestion of the presence of a divinity in the approaching storm, and retribution or justice. With hindsight one might see the American Civil War as the whirlwind
work, and never moved his library out of his parents’ house. When Efﬁe’s views differed from the senior Ruskins’, John sided with his parents. So although to the outside world the young married couple seemed to be living a glamorous life in high society, Efﬁe knew that the marriage was not working as it should. She was continually criticized for her extravagance and her taste for gaudy clothes, and John James complained to George Gray about his daughter’s extravagance; but then it came to light
formation of its styles.4 His work was painstaking and original. There were previous accounts of the place, which he found helpful, but he was able to 145 make corrections. ‘I believe few people have any idea of the cost of truth in these things’, he said: There is not a building in Venice, raised prior to the sixteenth century, which has not sustained essential change in one or more of its most important features. By far the greater number present examples of three or four different styles, it
encouragement at all, but he could still feel injured by the agony of it all 40 years later. With Rose it was different because she did have some friendly feelings for him, though it is not altogether clear what those feelings were. Where Ruskin was concerned the feelings were not conspicuously erotic or predatory, but they were obsessive. Somehow he had convinced himself that Rose was a living saint, and he wanted her approval for the things he did. He made her his authority ﬁgure, apparently
nation’s largest landowner, founded in 1891 by Octavia Hill (1838–1912) along with Sir Robert Hunter and Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley. Hill was a housing reformer whom Ruskin had employed to manage his Marylebone properties, where the retired servants lived, but she criticized the management of St George’s Fund, and Ruskin fell out with her over it. The National Trust’s vision was entirely compatible with that of the Guild of St George, but 194 the National Trust was certainly better managed, and