John Ruskin Biography


John Ruskin is remembered as one of the foremost Victorian art critics who contributed immensely to the development of Western art and culture. He is also known for his inspiring artworks and poems, as well as his insightful writings on architecture, science, philosophy, social and environmental issues. Through his art and writings, Ruskin had brought about great social and cultural reform, and he is even regarded as a sage or prophet by some of those who know his works.

According to a background check, John Ruskin was born on the 8th of February, 1819 in London. He was the only child of a rich wine merchant who owned the Allied Domecq company. Ruskin received his earlier education at home, and later on, he attended the King’s College to study poetry and art. He showed great talent for poetry when he was young, and his father had hoped that he would become a Christian poet like Dean Milman. Ruskin was sent to Christ Church of the University of Oxford, where he graduated with a 4th class degree.

After graduating from Oxford, Ruskin worked for an architecture magazine for two years. Then, in 1839, he published his first work, which was entitled Transactions of the Meteorological Society, but it did not create the kind of impact that he had hoped it would. It was in 1843 that Ruskin became recognized as an influential writer. He published the Modern Painters that year, and it caused a stir among the art circle. In his writing, he remarked that the works of contemporary painters like J.M.W. Turner were more meaningful than the works of some old masters of that time. This opinion enraged the supporters of the old masters, but it somehow created more awareness for Turner’s works.

Ruskin was a painter himself, and he had applied Turner’s painting philosophy to express his observations of nature. However, he never showed his paintings in exhibitions. After writing on art, Ruskin went on to write about architecture. In The Seven Lamps of Architecture, he stated that architecture is a form of cultural inheritance that will be handed down to future generations, and therefore, it should reflect current artistic trends. In another writing entitled The Stones of Venice, he gave an excellent discourse on Gothic architecture and how the transition of Gothic to Renaissance architecture had led to a decline in the moral standards of the Venetians. These two convincing writings brought Ruskin a significant degree of fame.

Other than being a respected art critic, Ruskin was also known as a compelling poet. Some of his more well-known poems are Trust Thou Thy Love, Christ Church, Oxford, The Last Smile, and The Hills of Carrara. In his works, Ruskin also showed a great passion for environmental protection. He was one of the most fervent objectors of the industrialization that was taking place in England at that time. He opposed to the construction of railways, as well as the pollution of rivers. His disapproval of industrialization was sparked by his distaste for the capitalist economic system. Ruskin’s pursuit for social justice resulted in writings that advocated socialism. He expressed his social philosophy in the writing Unto This Last. Ruskin was also a highly regarded botanist and geologist, and his ideas on science were revealed in writings like Deucalion and Ethics of the Dust.

In the year 1848, Ruskin married the girl of his fancy, Effie Gray, but the marriage did not last long. His sexual disinterest led to their divorce in 1854. In 1858, Ruskin met a 10-year-old religious girl called Rose La Touche, and he was obsessed with her. He gave her art lessons for many years, and slowly, he revealed his admiration for her. However, Rose’s parents were against the marriage, and she passed away shortly after that, at the age of 27. Ruskin was grief-stricken after he received news of her death, and he began to suffer from depression and mental problems, which resulted in a number of nervous breakdowns.

Around the time of the Impressionism movement, Ruskin withdrew himself from the world of contemporary art. He died on the 20th of January, 1900. In honor of his contributions to Western culture, the Ruskin Museum was set up in the year 1901.