Ruskin was the most influential and authoritative art critic of his generation. An outspoken champion of the works of J.M.W. Turner (1775–1851), Ruskin took a stance on contemporary art that defied the prevailing opinions of the age.
Both as an artist and a critic, he defended the importance of art to all branches of human knowledge. He embraced artistic expression as a medium for communication, but he also believed that the creative practice of art could help us to understand how we comprehend the world around us. A controversial thinker in his own time, his ideas about the purpose of art have proved transformative and he fiercely defended the importance of art as a wellspring of human knowledge.
Collectively, the materials that comprise the Whitehouse Collection attest to this quality of Ruskin’s engagement with the arts. The Collection features examples of Ruskin’s work across an array of different media – ranging from ink to paint to photography. It also includes manuscripts and rare printed versions of many his most outstanding pronouncements about the importance of the arts to human life – past, present and future.