SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS once referred to drawing, modelling and using colors as a language through which the artist must learn to express himself. 1 Ruskin caught the suggestion of Reynold's figure but changed its emphasis. Between 1840 and 1846 he was not interested in self-expression; he was eager to find out what artistic truth was. He knew that the value of Turner's paintings for him lay in their power to convey true things that he had only half seen. Art is a language? Yes! But as the value of spoken language lies in what is said so art's value must lie in the ideas it communicates. Here Ruskin found his first principle.
Artistic truth, therefore, rests in "the faithful statement" of ideas. The source of the ideas in art is nature, but nature understood in a larger sense than that which Sir Joshua and his period had conceived; nature enlarged by increased travel, new science, poetry, social theory and introspection. One may thus discover in art thoughts as well as facts; moral emotions as well as simple ideas. Truth then really enters into a consideration of each type of "Ideas" which art carries; but these Ruskin had cast into a formal scheme. Briefly reinterpreting this scheme, thoughts correspond to "Ideas of Relation," moral emotions to "Beauty" and true and false expressions to "Ideas of Power" and "Ideas of Imitation" respectively. Facts--