John Ruskin, Byzantine capitals, concave group

Spotlight: Architecture

The study of architecture was central to Ruskin’s artistic interests. Ruskin travelled widely from his youth and visited the great buildings of Britain and Europe. He immersed himself in studying such built environments and in recording them in his diaries and sketchbooks. On returning home, he often had his drawings and paintings engraved as illustrations for his own books, such as The Stones of Venice (1851–1853).

The Ruskin Whitehouse Collection contains some of Ruskin’s most important work on architecture. In addition to editions of Ruskin’s writing on the subject (and more than 150 years’ worth of scholarly responses to Ruskin’s ideas), the Collection contains many of Ruskin’s architectural sketches and an important series of daguerreotypes documenting nineteenth-century Venice. The collection also includes influential works by the great nineteenth-century painter of architecture, Samuel Prout (1783–1852), who influenced many of Ruskin’s views.

Consequently, the Whitehouse Collection evinces Ruskin’s belief that a great architect should also be a great artist, and it affirms the relevance of Ruskin’s thinking to ideas about architecture today.