George Richmond, Portrait of John Ruskin

John Ruskin

John Ruskin (1819–1900) was a thinker whose ideas exceed the confines of modern academic disciplines. A man of tremendous curiosity, Ruskin was as fascinated by the natural sciences as by art, and he combined both in his studies of subjects ranging from architecture to zoology. His works challenged the ideals and values of his own time and, in the process, paved the way for modes of thinking today.

Ruskin also dedicated his career to championing education for all and to addressing other social and political concerns. His writings on these subjects have influenced organisations and institutions that have carried forward the fight against social inequities and environmental degradation in the present.

Ruskin was a transformative art critic. His ideas set the cultural agenda of his era and they continue to shape current thinking about art, architecture and heritage. Today, his best-known work remains Modern Painters (5 volumes, 1843–1860), which defended the work of the artist J.M.W. Turner (1775–1851).

At his death, Ruskin left behind an extraordinary legacy. Many of his ideas still resonate today, and his life’s work can be found in major collections around the globe, including our very own Whitehouse Collection: the single largest gathering of Ruskin material in the world.