Ruskin's Botanical Drawings

John Ruskin, Verso - Bluebell, RF1186v © Ruskin Foundation

John Ruskin, Action of Campanula, RF1186 © Ruskin Foundation

Ruskin, John (1819-1900)

Action of Campanula
Pencil, brown ink, watercolour and bodycolour on blue paper
19.7 x 15.5 cm
Inscribed with ink notes on Statice sinuata
Verso: Bluebell leaves, inscribed: leaf Action of Campanula F.V. 787

RF 1186

 

A page from a notebook probably dating to 1861-63.

This detailed sketch of a botanical dissection is of a species of the genus Limonium, formerly Statice, a member of the Thrift family (Plumbaginaceae), collectively known as Sea Lavenders. Four members of the genus grow wild in Britain, especially on salt-marshes and other coastal habitats. The plant drawn by Ruskin, however, with its angular, winged stem, is probably Winged Sea Lavender (Limonium [syn. Statice] sinuatum (L.) Mill.), a native of the Mediterranean region that is often grown in gardens and is widely used by florists as an 'everlasting flower'. The green, winged stem, so carefully shown by Ruskin, is probably an ecological adaptation to maintain the area available for photosynthesis, even when the leaves are shrivelled or reduced, as often occurs in the salty, desiccating environment of coastal habitats.

An engraving of this species, by George Allen and possibly based in part on the present drawing, occurs as Plate XXVII of Proserpna, entitled 'States of Adversity.' (See also RF 1187)

This entry was researched and written by Professor David Ingram.