Two years after Ruskin 's death on 20 January 1900, Frederic Harrison wrote of Modern Painters (5 vols, 1843-60):
We have now reached the opening of young Ruskin's career as an Apostle of Nature and Art, with that book which, in spite of his own disclaimers and many strong reasons to the contrary, the world has agreed to regard as his central and typical work. ( Harrison, John Ruskin, p.41.)
The first edition of Modern Painters I was published anonymously and without plates in the first week of May 1843. It would be difficult to exaggerate its significance in increasing the reading public's interest in art; its long-term impact upon Victorian art criticism was more limited (see critical reception of Modern Painters I). One measure of the significance of the book for Ruskin himself is the extraordinary care which he devoted to correcting and revising subsequent editions of Modern Painters I, partly because the first edition had been produced under time pressure (see period of composition of Modern Painters I).