John Ruskin was without doubt one of the most influential writers on art in the 19th century.
He defended Turner’s late style and the young Pre-Rahaelites against public criticism. He was also one of the first travel writers, producing three volumes of ‘The Stones of Venice’ and visiting gothic buildings in France, Italy and Germany. He supported artists financially including Lizzie Siddal, later the wife of Rossetti, and sent artists to Italy to paint. He was also a pioneer of conservation, a supporter of the Arts and Crafts movement and a socialist with a passion for adult education. His English prose is superb.
But despite this genius, his own life was difficult. His wife divorced him to marry the painter John Millais, and his later years were clouded by mental problems. I examine the life of this Victorian polymath with numerous illustrations.