Wilson Online Reference
John Ruskin, 1819-1900
Connection to Wilson
Biographical Details
John Ruskin was the pre-eminent writer of the 19th century on art, social and economic affairs. From an early age he was encouraged to draw and write and to take an interest in geology. In 1836 he matriculated as a gentleman commoner at Christ Church, Oxford, where he wrote a series of essays linking architecture and nature for Loudon's Architectural Magazine, later republished as The Poetry of Architecture (authorised edition, 1893). His drawing skills were fostered by a traditional drawing master, Charles Runciman, and refined by tutors of celebrity, Anthony Van Dyke Copley Fielding and James Duffield Harding. His ability visually to depict architecture and landscape was matched by his genius for the verbal description of works of art. He published the first volume of Modern Painters in May 1843, which was followed by four more volumes. He then began concentrating on architectural research and The Seven Lamps of Architecture was published in May 1849. He also wrote prolifically on Turner, Gothic Architecture and the Pre-Raphaelites, as well as many social and economic issues.

Ruskin's views on Wilson were varied. He expressed a low opinion of Wilson's tree technique, which he described as 'two pronged barbarousness', adding that he would be found 'continually laughing at Wilson's tree painting; not because Wilson could not paint but because he had never looked at a tree.' In general, however, he was a great admirer of Wilson (see Bibliographical Resources, 'Cook & Wedderburn' passim).

He assembled a teaching series of drawings, which he gave to the Ruskin School of Drawing, Oxford. These are catalogued in Cook & Wedderburn, vol. 21 (1906). Deposited at the Ashmolean Museum, they include two by Wilson:
D178 Arpinum and D273A The Circus of Caracalla.
Significant institutions
In 1873, he was elected an honorary member of the Old Watercolour Society
Updated by Compiler
2018-04-13 00:00:00