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Lot 324
RUSKIN, JOHN (1819-1900, art critic, author, poet, artist and social reformer)
Sold for £2,640 (US$ 4,129) inc. premium

Lot Details
RUSKIN, JOHN (1819-1900, art critic, author, poet, artist and social reformer)
LONG UNPUBLISHED AUTOGRAPH LETTER, clearly almost complete though lacking the final page (the argument of the letter evidently concluding at the end of the last page present), to his former tutor at Christ Church, Oxford, [Walter Lucas] Brown, answering Brown's criticism of the use of 'the term spiritual - unity - as applied to art', firstly on the grounds that he cannot think of a better way of describing 'that order of painting which is professedly and continually concerned with the representation or excitement of spiritual emotion - or operation - that is to say love - joy - peace -gentleness - goodness - faith - meekness - temperance &c...rather than outward beauty of human form...and so in landscape, whatever tends to awaken such feeling - or to express spiritual power...'), asserting, with examples of James Watt and the steamer and railroads, that 'the means are always less honourable than the end' and that painting cannot be a mere amusement ('...What people enjoy is not art but legardemain...'), and reporting that he has looked at some paintings by Turner that day and has come home exhausted ('...yet I imagine I enjoy them as much as most people - but I pay for my enjoyment by great labour...a picture must be walked into & walked with, for many an hour before it takes its proper hold on you - before it opens your eyes so that you may know it...'); Ruskin ends by mentioning the third volume of [Modern Painters not published until 1846], having begun the letter by describing himself as 'having been very irregularly locomotive for the last week', 6 pages, octavo, Leeds, 12 October, near contemporary date in another hand 12 October 1847

Footnotes

  • Ruskin had been visiting friends in Scotland and spent 2-10 October at Effie Gray's family home, Bowerswell, in Perth. He returned to Denmark Hill on 14 October. It was during this time that his engagement to Effie was in train and he was fraught with stress and tension. Shortly afterwards he retreated to Folkestone for a rest.

    This letter has remained unpublished: not in E.T. Cook and A. Wedderburn, The Library Edition of The Works of John Ruskin, 39 volumes, 1903-1912, nor has it been found published elsewhere.
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