The Darkening Glass: A Portrait of Ruskin's Genius

By John D. Rosenberg | Go to book overview

ART

I. NATURE, TRUTH, AND TURNER

Ruskin's study of art began with the patterned carpet on his nursery foor. His mother, a stern, puritanical Scot, allowed him neither playmates nor playthings. He passed his childhood in serene but unrelenting solitude, lightened only by the ingenuities of his own observation. He examined the patches of color on the floor, counted the bricks in the walls of the neighboring houses, and, with rapturous and riveted attention, watched from the nursery window as the watercarts were filled from a dripping iron post at the pavement edge. Ahnost from infancy Ruskin was forced to find in his powers of eye and mind the chief pleasures of his being. Alone in the nursery or enclosed by the walled garden of his home at Herne Hill, he focused his attention on the forms and patterns which later delighted him in the landscapes of Turner and the jeweled surfaces of Fra Angelico.

When Ruskin and his parents toured the Continent with their post chaise and courier, the countryside seemed to possess a grandeur all the greater for the confinement he had known at home; the cathedrals a splendor magnified in contrast to the Evangelical chapel-- an ugly, "oblong, flat-ceiled barn"--where the Ruskins worshiped; the palaces a brilliance heightened by the remembered drabness of Herne Hill. His diaries of these tours are a prolonged, ecstatic hymn to sights which moved him more deeply than anything else he was ever to experience. He had already taught himself to see with extraordinary intensity; now he was learning to shape a prose as precise and potent as his own powers of observation.

Prior to Ruskin's matriculation at Oxford, all that was essential to his education had transpired in the self-engrossed quiet of Herne

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The Darkening Glass: A Portrait of Ruskin's Genius
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations - Taken from Drawings by John Ruskin ix
  • Preface xi
  • Art 1
  • I - Nature, Truth, and Turner 1
  • II - Mountain Gloom and Mountain Glory 22
  • Architecture 47
  • III - A Gothic Eden 47
  • IV - Windows of Agate 64
  • V - Venice: Stones and Touchstones 79
  • Society 107
  • VI - My Father's House 107
  • VII - Dives and Lazarus 121
  • VIII - No Wealth but Life 131
  • Wilderness 147
  • IX 147
  • X - The Night Cometh 176
  • Peace 201
  • XI - The Past Recaptured 201
  • Notes 227
  • Bibliography 253
  • Acknowledgments 263
  • Index 265
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