|JOHN RUSKIN (1819 - 1900)|
Ruskin was born on February 8th, 1819, London, England and died on January 20th, 1900, Coniston, Lancashire. He was an English writer, critic, and artist who championed the Gothic Revival movement in architecture and had a large influence upon public taste in art in Victorian England.|
John Ruskin was the son of a wealthy wine merchant and grew up on the southern outskirts of London, the family moving to nearby Dulwich when he was 20. His father recognised his talents in writing and art and his ready access to art galleries, in particular the Dulwich Gallery, fuelled his development in this area. He began to develop drawing and painting skills and even received lessons from Copley Fielding. During his early teens the family went on a number of tours of Europe, and the beauty of the environment and architecture he visited captured his imagination.
He went to Christ College, Oxford in 1836 and although his studies were not entirely enthusiastic, he made a number of good friends who would permanently enrich his life.
Ruskin, like Wordsworth, had a great love for nature and in developing his early critical skills in painting and architecture, attempted to tie in the definition of "good" form to a reflection of the natural form.
He won a poetry prize in 1839 and because of his substantial allowances from his father, began to collect the paintings of J. M. W. Turner. In 1843 he published, with considerable success, his first volume of "Modern Painters".
Ruskin undertook a number of trips to Italy during his lifetime and, during the trip in 1845, found in the architecture and sculpture an inspiring beauty which he reflected in the best of his sketches.
He married Euphemia Chalmers Gray ("Effie"), the daughter of Scottish friends of the family in 1848, but the marriage was unsuccessful and only lasted until 1854. His first love, at seventeen, had been Adele Domecq, the daughter of his father's Spanish business partners, and the lack of success of his love here seems to have emotionally affected him for the rest of his life.
In his early life his art criticism was not automatically accepted by the public and it was not until after he was 50 that his standing as a critic became revered. However, from the 1860s his creative ideas moved into political and social theory and a concern with social welfare - at odds with the current doctrine of the time.
His father died in 1864 leaving him subtantial assets, properties and pictures and a bequest of £120,000. In 1869 Ruskin was made Professor of Fine Art at Oxford and became very successful as a lecturer. In 1871, after his mother's death, he moved home to Coniston Water in the Lake District. However, by the end of the decade he was regularly suffering from acute mania and resigned his post at Oxford in 1879. During the last five years of his life he wrote his autobiography "Praeterita", calling on the detailed diaries he had always kept, but was not able to finish it before he died.