Wednesday, 20 January 2010

On this day...

English art and social critic John Ruskin died in 1900, at the age of 80. Ruskin showed an aptitude for writing from a young age, and by 15 he was contributing to several well known publications, including the 'Magazine of Natural History', and the 'Architectural Magazine'; the latter  under the pen name κατα φυσιν - 'according to nature'. Donning another pen name, of 'A Oxford Graduate', Ruskin published the first of his important works, 'Modern Painters', in which he argued the value of contemporary landscape painters such as Turner, over those of the post-Renaissance period. Yet perhaps he is more well known for his connections to the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood; supporting Rossetti, Hunt and Millais, until the latter married his wife, who had been granted divorce on account of impotency on Ruskin's part. Ruskin then changed his focus from art, to social theory. Greatly inspired by friend and critic Thomas Carlyle, he started to explore capitalism and its downfalls, influencing the development of both the Labour Party, and Christian Socialism. Ruskin was, as Tolstoy describes him, 'one of those rare men who think with their heart' and he has left a lasting legacy, even including the addition of the term pathetic fallacy to the language.

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