Modern Painters

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For a list of modern artists, see list of modern artists. For the magazine founded by Peter Fuller, see Modern Painters (magazine).

Modern Painters (1843–60) is a book on art by John Ruskin which argues that recent painters emerging from the tradition of the picturesque are superior in the art of landscape to the old masters. The book was primarily written as a defence of the later work of J.M.W. Turner. Ruskin used the book to argue that art should devote itself to the accurate documentation of nature. In Ruskin's view Turner had developed from early detailed documentation of nature to a later more profound insight into natural forces and atmospheric effects.

Ruskin added later volumes in subsequent years. Volume two (1846) placed emphasis on symbolism in art, expressed through nature. The second volume was influential on the early development of Pre-Raphaelitism. He produced three more volumes, with the fifth and final volume appearing in 1860.


  • Mark Jarzombeck, "Recognizing Ruskin: "Modern Painters" and the Refractions of Self", Assemblage, No. 32 (Apr., 1997), pp. 70–87

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