Talk:John Ruskin

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"Ruskin the reluctant conchologist", by S. Peter Dance, Journal of the History of Collections, May 2004, vol. 16, no. 1, pp. 35-46(12) (Publisher: Oxford University Press) - suggests that although Ruskin collected shells (especially during his boyhood, then again during his later years, partly due to his friendships with Henrietta Carey, an early member of the St George's Guild, and Sydney Carlyle Cockerel, both conchologists themselves), and did produce several remarkable pictures of them, he cared little for their scientific study, keeping them rather as objects of beauty, and also found them rather frustrating to draw. If anybody wants to thread some of this information into the main article they are welcome to, but it is presently absurdly short, and putting in information about this hobby of this would seem to be premature! I have classed him as a conchologist nonetheless.

explanation of editing correction[edit]

The article, after mentioning Ruskin's annulment of marriage in 1854, had stated that he later fell in love with Adele Domecq and Rose LaTouche. Adele Domecq, however, was someone whom Ruskin met in 1836, when they were both adolescents. His frustrated love for her continued over the next few years. When he met her again in 1839, she was engaged to someone else. This was his last meeting with her. I therefore deleted mention of her name as someone whom Ruskin fell in love with later in life. I did not add her name elsewhere in the article. She is perhaps not without relevance to an article on Ruskin; it has been said that his unrequited love for her caused him, along with a tubercular attack, to take a temporary leave from Oxford during his student days. But the article as it stands should be expanded where it is most deficient- namely, description of Ruskin's artistic theories, his own accomplished drawings, and the general content of his works and his prose style. I therefore omitted mention of Adele Domecq on the grounds that it would be a not particularly necessary addition and would be better replaced with other, more needed additions. - InvisibleSun 8/22/05

Turner's Erotic Paintings[edit]

"Until 2005, biographies of both J. M. W. Turner and Ruskin had claimed that in 1858 Ruskin burned bundles of erotic paintings and drawings by Turner, in order to protect Turner's posthumous reputation. In 2005, these same works by Turner were discovered in a neglected British archive, proving that Ruskin did not destroy them."

Interesting... Source? There's no mention of this on the Turner page.

Added cite PiCo 10:28, 8 February 2006 (UTC)

The conclusion that Ruskin did not destroy Turner's erotic drawings is based on research done by Ian Warrell, the Turner expert at the Tate Gallery in London. Please see -- 7 November 2009

Kilaiditis: I think he also burned a copy of Goya's Caprichos!

Kenneth Clark, in his book Ruskin Today (1964) writes the following: "I have never been able to find the source of the story, frequently repeated, that in the course of his labours, Ruskin destroyed a number of Turner drawings which he considered obscene. It may well be true, as he persuaded Mr. Ellis, the bookseller, to burn a fine copy of Goya's Caprichos. At all events, after 1856 Ruskin writes about him [Turner] in a very different tone." InvisibleSun 01:20, 13 February 2006 (UTC)


A discussion on the Victoriana mailing list re the "pubic hair" myth and a reference there to Wikipedia as propagating the myth persuaded me to come here and work on the article. I have included the gist of the discussion on Victoriana (a list inhabited primarily by English professors) re tracing the rumor to Mary Lutyens. I should cite Lutyens in the references, and give a page ref as well. I don't know if I will be able to get a copy of the book; anyone else who can supply the missing information is welcome to do so!

I also took the liberty of reorganizing the article, which seemed to be somewhat jumbled and hard to read. I separated the life and work, and added separate sections for biographies (which should be expanded), legacy, and controversies. I think putting the article into sections makes it more readable -- however, there could be BETTER ways of defining and organizing them. Other sections could be added, too. So I'm not going to make a fuss if other editors rearrange yet again.

The prose in both sections does not flow cleanly, and there are many gaps in the information given. Both the life and the work could use some amplification. I don't know if I will be able to do this -- I am working on too many Wikipedia articles as it is. The regular editors may be able to fill this gap, if I can't.

I hope I haven't stepped on too many toes. I just wanted to make sure that if any of the English professors on Victoriana stopped here again, they'd find a spiffed up article with Lutyens' speculation clearly marked as such. Zora 22:32, 15 February 2006 (UTC)

I've added a quote from Kenneth Clark on Ruskin's artistic principles. I would like to add more over the next few weeks. This, I believe, is where the article is weakest: we're told about his career, marriage, controversies and so on, but hardly anything about his actual views on art, religion, society, economics, education; nor is there much about his prose style, his artwork or his influence on contemporaries. InvisibleSun 23:56, 15 February 2006 (UTC)
Agreed. He's a major figure and deserves better coverage. Links to those of his works that are available for free, online, as e-books, would help too. I'll see if I can do that. Zora 00:02, 16 February 2006 (UTC)

Ruskin's aversion to pubic hair.[edit]

We can't really think that the issue of whether Ruskin was repulsed by his first wife's pubic hair is sufficiently noteworthy to be so dominantly included in such a short summary of his work and life as it is now, can we? Does anyone object to reducing this to more of a passing reference so that it assumes a more appropriate place in the context of his work? Alternately, can someone volunteer facts demonstrating what meaningful impact, if any, this biographical speculation has on the interpretation of his writing?

I entered that material following a discussion on the Victoriana mailing list, by English professors for the most part, re what everyone "knew" about Ruskin, which was the pubic hair rumour, and what a shame it was that Wikipedia repeated it uncritically.
I think WP should respond to the misconceptions that users bring to subjects of the articles, and debunk them if necessary. Since all too many students are consulting Wikipedia, it's a service to the English professors to challenge misconceptions.
I agree that the subject has too much prominence now, just because the rest of the article is so sketchy. If we bulked up the rest of the article, the material re his marriage wouldn't be as salient. Zora 22:34, 28 February 2006 (UTC)
Agreed. I will try to add substantial information regarding his writing and historical context over the next week so that we can focus the article on his work rather than his curious, yet distracting, purported sexual proclivities. Wm. Terpening 00:37, 1 March 2006 (UTC)
Do you really think Ruskin did not have pubic hair? Do you really think he had not studied and drawn many tens of nudes????? This is just faulting his wife for being a human - pubic hair - he drew nudes - ignorance on menstrual blood - he went to Oxford University, he was either asexual or a paedophile.This is just sexist blaming of the woman for the man's problem and male english teachers getting their students cheap thrills. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:04, 26 August 2012 (UTC)
This is an encyclopaedia article not about condemnation or praise of Ruskin. The article notes and sources what the man was like. If he did have a problem with pubic hair, it's a reflection on Ruskin not women. Span (talk) 19:21, 26 August 2012 (UTC)

"The idea that he did not know what women looked like is a nonsense. It is frankly irritating." There are no sources at the time that mention this at all. This is all written well afterward with all evidence pointing to the contrary. How many other artists got shocked by pubic hair ? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:27, 26 August 2012 (UTC)

Plenty of sources are given, multiple biographies. Span (talk) 19:35, 26 August 2012 (UTC)
Of course they didn't speak of it at the time. They were Victorians, so what do you expect? It's speculation by later writers. For some reason you appear to think this is insulting to women, which seems a very odd view to me. I'm sure that no one contributing to this article blames women for having pubic hair. If anyone is being blamed, if is Ruskin. The blame may be misplaced, if that was not the cause of his "disgust", but the fact remains that he found her genitalia repulsive in some way, and of course no one, man or woman, can be blamed for the shape of their body parts. BTW, there is no evidence that I know of that Ruskin drew any nudes at all. Paul B (talk) 21:28, 26 August 2012 (UTC)
I've just read the dumb comments by Hewison in the Guardian article "The idea that he did not know what women looked like is a nonsense. It is frankly irritating." Well if it's nonsense why did Effie herself write "he had imagined women were quite different to what he saw I was, and that the reason he did not make me his Wife was because he was disgusted with my person (person = body)." So presumably Effie had no idea what she was taking about! Paul B (talk) 19:01, 4 September 2012 (UTC)

Why not ?[edit]

Well yes, why not write something about his amazing talents as a teacher. Claude Monet once stated that "ninety percent of the theory of Impressionist painting is in Ruskin's Elements of Drawing (1857)" (Contemporary Review - March 1911 see: Lawrence Campbell's introduction to Ruskin's "The Elements of Drawing." -Dover ed. 1971) ( 11:46, 4 March 2006 (UTC))

This relates to Ruskin's contention that an artist should reproduce the visual image that is felt through a sense impression. The artist should not presuppose anything about the perceived object as object. An artist should be concerned only with sense impressions, such as areas of color. In other words, draw or paint your sense impression and don't think about the object. In so doing, the artistic representation of the object is more correct and results naturally. This influence may not be generally known because not many have read Elements of Drawing. The common understanding may be that Ruskin's influence on the Impressionists resulted merely from his suggestion that they paint outdoors rather than in the studio.Lestrade (talk) 02:13, 18 October 2010 (UTC)Lestrade

anecdote re quality of writing?[edit]

Couldn't title that better, somehow. It may have only been in the preface to the selected Ruskin in Pelican that I used to have, but I think it was a comment from another source that tweaked me to get the Pelican anthology anyway. Thing is, I'm from Ruskin, B.C. so always had the curiosity; wound up in a cultural geography course years later and clued in to why the Ruskin powerhouse has a gothic flavour that other BCER powerhouses don't have; "the epitome of modern architecture" in was pronounced in the Vancouver rags in, um, 1931 (bit of art deco in there, come to think of it). So somewhere in my asking and reading around about the guy, since his followers were a part of the history a few addresses down the road (past the swamp and the drive-in theatre, now a pair of trailer parks), something I read said something or other about Ruskin's writing being the epitome of English prose, the finest-wrought though not in fiction or poetry, more in pure description; the citation was in ref to passages of The Stones of Venice, I think. I didn't just want to add, on the main article, "his writing is considered to be among the finest prose written in English", especially if there might be an actual quote/cite out there. Anyone recognize this and might know the cite, or at least the critic whose opinion it was?Skookum1 05:44, 2 April 2006 (UTC)

  • Saintsbury, perhaps? A Google search came up with this quote: "George Saintsbury says of Ruskin's works '...they will be found to contain the very finest prose (without exception and beyond comparison) which has been written in English during the last half of the nineteenth century... The Stones of Venice ... is the book of descriptive prose in English, and all others toil after it in vain.'" InvisibleSun 09:27, 2 April 2006 (UTC)

Best known as...[edit] known for his work as an art critic and social critic, but is remembered as an author, poet and artist as well...
By whom? I know him as an author and poet, but not as a critic or artist. Joe down the road may have some other viewpoint on the man, his life and his works. This bald statement, coming as it does right at the start of the article, gives it a rather subjective tone. Better, I think, to list what makes Ruskin famous, without giving precedence to some aspects of his work over others. Later in the piece, assuming there is documentary support for the opinions, the better-knownedness of some fields could be mentioned, if the contributor considers it important.--King Hildebrand 17:50, 5 August 2006 (UTC)

I really think it is very well established that he is best known as a writer on art and as a social critic. It is usual practice to list what is most notable about a figure at the top of the page. The great majority of books on him are about these aspects of his thinking (if we include architecture under the general concept of "art"). His poetry is hardly ever read these days. Can you find any book about him as a poet? "Author" is rather ambiguous, since all his works are the product of an "author", but I assume this is intended to mean "creative writer", possibly being a reference to The King of the Golden River. Again, you'd be hard put to find anything like as much literature on this as on his work as a theorist of art and architecture. Paul B 18:07, 5 August 2006 (UTC)

Contributions to Political Thought: Welfare[edit]

Why is there no mention of Ruskin's positive contribution to the creation of the concept of common welfare, and the welfare state?

It is mentioned, but it could be expanded. Do it. Paul B 12:11, 13 September 2006 (UTC)

Critics of Ruskin[edit]

An obscure (?) american documentary called "the capitalist conspiracy" claims that ruskin is supposed to have advocated "the rule of one man over all others", an idea similar to enlightened ... what's the expression in english again.

anyone know anything of this quote?

I guess Ruskin was too early to anticipate Hitler etc. but seems he should have, living with enough despots and powerful not so benevolent ruling monarchs at the time.

I feel a greater paragraph on his politics is needed, especially on a man that has influenced people like Tolstoj, Oscar wilde, the british Labour Party and so on. I'm no expert on ruskin but I'll try dig up some more that can shed light on why he was considered so important by his close contemporaries.
- John Smith (nom de guerre) 09:57, 24 November 2006 (UTC)

It's difficult to be clear about Ruskin's politics. He described himself as a Tory, but he influenced Socialism. He was very close to Thomas Carlyle, who did, in his later work, promote a sort of proto-fascist ideology. The expression is "enlightened despotism". Paul B 10:57, 24 November 2006 (UTC)


From Pedophilia

"The International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (F65.4) defines pedophilia as "a sexual preference for children, boys or girls or both, usually of prepubertal or early pubertal age."[1]

The APA's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 4th edition, Text Revision gives the following as its "Diagnostic criteria for 302.2 Pedophilia":[2]

  • A. Over a period of at least 6 months, recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving sexual activity with a prepubescent child or children (generally age 13 years or younger);
  • B. The person has acted on these sexual urges, or the sexual urges or fantasies cause marked distress or interpersonal difficulty;
  • C. The person is at least age 16 years and at least 5 years older than the child or children in Criterion A.

The APA diagnostic criteria do not require actual sexual activity with a pre-pubescent youths. The diagnosis can therefore be made based on the presence of fantasies or sexual urges alone, provided the subject meets the remaining criteria. "For individuals in late adolescence with Pedophilia, no precise age difference is specified, and clinical judgment must be used." (p. 527 DSM).[3]"

As you can presumably see, it is inaccurate to use the term "paedophilic inclinations", as one cannot be inclined to be primarily or exclusively attracted to pre-pubescent children.

As far as the edit about behaviour is concerned, the DSM, quoted above, makes it clear that a diagnosis of pedophilia can be made without the person having engaged in any behaviour. As such, Batchelor's claim is incorrect and makes no sense; this must be made clear to Wikipedia's readers. Barry Jameson (talk) 14:54, 23 January 2008 (UTC)

This is beside the point. We simply report on what have been said by relevant authorities on the subject. We don't add our own editorialising disagreements with them. That's called WP:SYN. It is not allowed. As for the assertion that "pedophile inclinations" is nonsense. It's no more nonsense than "homosexual inclinations". We do not generally speak of people "having pedophilia" any more than we speak of people "having homosexuality". Yes, I can see some examples of such a usage, but they are very rare. I think you have some specific agenda here regarding the definition of pedophilia as an illness. That should not affect normal English usage, not does it justify adding comments that violate WP:SYN. You are mistaken about behaviour. The term behaviour refers to the totality of human actiity. It is not possible to "make it clear that a diagnosis of pedophilia can be made without the person having engaged in any behaviour." I think you mean without having committed any offenses, or other active engagement with children, which is a quite different thing. Paul B (talk) 15:50, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
Paedophilia is officially a mental disorder, with a specific diagnosis; homosexuality is not. That is why one has "homosexual inclinations" and not "paedophilic inclinations", and it's also why one "has paedophilia" but doesn't "have homosexuality". For what it's worth, people are referred to as having paedophilia in a professional psychological context. I'm actually opposed to paedophilia being considered a mental illness, but I believe that Wikipedia's definitions of paedophilia should be 100% accurate. See my contributions.
Nothing that I have added to the article constitutes original research, rather it clarifies that Batchelor is incorrect when he claims that Ruskin's behaviour is relevant to his alleged paedophilia. There's a major difference between original research and a brief explanation that a source is inaccurate. Wikipedia does not only report quotes.
As far as behaviour is concerned, one can be a paedophile without engaging in any behaviour. Mental disorders are considered to be a form of abnormal neurological activity, which is not defined as behaviour. Barry Jameson (talk) 17:04, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
I agree with you that the definition of pedophilia as a mental illness is illogical (or at least has no more logic than excluding other paraphilias), but as you say, that's a matter for professionals to decide. However the fact remains that "having paediophilia" is not a normative construction and is inappropriate. It is also wrong to add statements that disagree with what Reliable sources say. It is meaningless to make comments about Ruskin's "neurological activity" since he's been dead for a century. We can only judge on the basis of recorded behaviour (and that includes writings etc), so Batchelor is perfectly correct to make an assessment (whether it is right or wrong) based on the evidence that exists, which is evidence of behaviour. Paul B (talk) 17:33, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
I personally feel that you're stretching the definition of behaviour.
If one were studying Ruskin's writings for clues as to his sexuality, I think it would be difficult to genuinely claim that Ruskin was definitely not a paedophile (although we can't say that Ruskin was definitely a paedophile either, as we don't know whether he was caused significant distress/impairment by his apparent attraction to children). Therefore, I very much doubt that Batchelor was referring to Ruskin's writings when he used the term "behaviour".
Also, you must not forget that while Batchelor is clearly an expert on Ruskin and is a reliable source in that sense, his knowledge of paedophilia is probably very limited. I'm sure that he didn't consult sources such as the DSM before writing about Ruskin's sexuality.
I have changed "had paedophilia" to "was a paedophile", per your comment above. Barry Jameson (talk) 18:18, 23 January 2008 (UTC)

Ruskin Street in West Roxbury[edit]

There is a Ruskin Street in West Roxbury (Boston) MA US, which is also the home of Brook Farm community. Perhaps this street was named after John Ruskin. Are there any sources to pin this down? - (talk) 01:53, 10 June 2008 (UTC)

This would be more relevant to the aims of the Brook Farm community, if you have a soiurce for how and when the street was named. At John Ruskin it is merely trivial. --Wetman (talk) 04:24, 10 June 2008 (UTC)
There are many streets named after him (London has a "John Ruskin Street" and a "Ruskin Road"). You'd have to contact the local historians in Boston to identify the source of that particular street, but it's very likely it took its name from him. Paul B (talk) 12:56, 10 June 2008 (UTC)
Any other Ruskin would be an unlikely coincidence. My thought was simply that the figure of John Ruskin had particular resonance with the Brook Farm community, which aimed to "combine the thinker and the opening the benefits of education and the profit of labor to all.”: see Brook Farm. --Wetman (talk) 08:15, 13 June 2008 (UTC)
On the other hand, Brook Farm is mentioned in the WP article as having gone defunct by 1847, at which time Ruskin had not yet written his books on the structure of society, the nature of education, the value of labor and so on. In the 1840s he was famous as the author of Modern Painters, in which his views on these subjects had not coalesced. He hadn't written The Stones of Venice, Unto This Last, Fors Clavigera, etc. - InvisibleSun (talk) 06:44, 15 June 2008 (UTC)

New file File:John Ruskin by James Northcote.jpg[edit]

John Ruskin by James Northcote.jpg

Recently the file File:John Ruskin by James Northcote.jpg (right) was uploaded and it appears to be relevant to this article and not currently used by it. If you're interested and think it would be a useful addition, please feel free to include it. It shows John Ruskin as a 3-year-old child in 1822. Dcoetzee 23:36, 23 April 2009 (UTC)

In Our Time[edit]

The BBC programme In Our Time presented by Melvyn Bragg has an episode which may be about this subject (if not moving this note to the appropriate talk page earns cookies). You can add it to "External links" by pasting {{In Our Time|John Ruskin|p003k9bv|John_Ruskin}}. Rich Farmbrough, 03:16, 16 September 2010 (UTC).

Possible vandalism[edit]

It looks to me like this revision [revision] may be vandalism. It adds an unsourced "letter to his physician", containing some implausible innuendo and a bizarre reference to Connie Gilchrist (not born until the early 20th century), and is from an IP address known to have committed vandalism in the past. Maybe someone better informed could take a look? -- (talk) 21:42, 8 March 2011 (UTC)

Unfortunately the letter looks and probably is genuine. However you are correct the Connie Gilchrist is incorrectly included - the original letter says Gonnie Gilchrists clearly a different person. I will make the appropriate change, good catch. I am moving this thread to the bottom of the page...Modernist (talk) 22:26, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
Yes, the letter has a reliable seeming source. The second page of the article does actually cite a Connie Gilchrist. I don't know if Gonnie was a nickname. The dates are wrong for the Connie featured on Wikipedia, although she was also a London stage actress, famed for pantomime. I can see how the mistake was made. There is considerable evidence that Ruskin had a penchant for small children. Best wishes Span (talk) 23:56, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
The problem is that this is just too long, plonked in the middle of the text as an undigested lump of primary material. We should be including long quotes like that. Paul B (talk) 08:45, 9 March 2011 (UTC)

::::It's two lines long… Seems fine to me. Span (talk) 21:29, 9 March 2011 (UTC).

especially its geologist[edit]

The phrase "especially its geologist" in the article strikes me as probably containing a typographical error, but I'm not sure how its author intended it to read. Would its author care to correct it (or explain here why it's correct as it stands)? Tonydwyer2001 (talk) 00:46, 18 March 2012 (UTC)

It was a recent change. The typo is fixed. Span (talk) 04:36, 18 March 2012 (UTC)


The very bottom of the article has a table of information about Ghandi. The only connection with Ruskin is that Ruskin was one of Ghandi's influences. I don't think that this was the only person Ruskin influenced, nor the only person who influenced Ghandi. Maybe someone who knows how may want to unlink this table. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:57, 10 July 2012 (UTC)


'For Effie, Venice provided an opportunity to socialise. Whilst she met with the Austrian 1st lieutenant, Charles Paulizza, Ruskin was engaged in solitary studies. Their London life was much the same. Returning to Venice in September 1851, Effie discovered that Paulizza was dead.'

There is no further mention of Paulizza, so his significance is unknown. And a rather disjointed para altogether. Valetude (talk) 11:56, 6 April 2014 (UTC)
Paulizza is significant for two reasons. One is that he was responsible for bombing Venice during the Austrian attack on the city, so Effie'a friendship with him is often presented as rather ironic since her husband was writing a book all about the need to preserve its buildings. Effie's apparently unconcerned tone in her accounts of Paulizza's doings is sometimes offered as evidence of her lack of sympathy with her husband's ideas. However, Rusking seems to have had no problem with Paulizza. The other reason is that Ruskin was later accused by Effie's brother of intentionally pushing Effie and Paulizza together in order to compomise her. This was later said by Effie's supporters to be one of his strategies for either getting rid of her or contolling her, by intentionally throwing her at various attractive men of which Paulizza was the first. Of course neither of these points are made in the current article text, and the first one is rather minor. The second point is rather more significant in the context of the deteroriorating relationship between Effie and John, so it could be developed in a sentence or so. Paul B (talk) 14:39, 6 April 2014 (UTC)
I've altered the relevant paragraph, to make it more understandable. The previous version did not say whether there was any significance in her discovery of Paulizza's death on her (their?) return visit in 1851, so I'm assuming it's off-topic. Valetude (talk) 17:39, 6 April 2014 (UTC)

First mention of Effie[edit]

In the Oxford section, you say 'Before he returned, he answered a challenge set down by Effie Gray, whom he later married.' This does not really tell us anything. It should say who she was, and how they had met. And what sort of 'challenge' was this anyway? Valetude (talk) 03:53, 19 April 2014 (UTC)

It's slightly clearer in context. The challenge was to write a fairy story. As Derrick Leon puts it: "She was shown his minerals and his drawings, she saw the architectural articles in Loudon's Magazines: but she would have been far better pleased to know that he wrote fairy stories like Grimm--and frankly told him so. At which Ruskin, always eager to give pleasure, in particular to charming and intelligent young girls, told her that he would see what he could do, while she laughed delightfully, and assured him that she was quite sure he would fail. Thus teased and flattered, he set to work on The King of the Golden River, which he finished a few weeks later" (Ruskin: the Great Victorian, p.66). Paul B (talk) 21:19, 22 June 2014 (UTC)
    • ^ World Health Organization, International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems 10. § F65.4
    • ^ American Psychiatric Association (2000). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (fourth edition text revision), § 302.2
    • ^ American Psychiatric Association (2000). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (fourth edition)