Pre-Felton works purchased on Ruskin’s advice
* Frere Cottage Interior {1872} Loc? [PA]
Gray Child playing grandmother 1870 {1872} NGV [PA]
* Morrish Landscape, near Manaton 1870 {1871} Loc? [WT]
Phillott The Haunt of Ancient Peace {1871} NGV [WT]
* Watson Cottage scenery {1871} Loc? [WT]

Widely influential as both an art and social critic during the Victorian era, Ruskin retained a strong following in the Edwardian period, in Australia as well as Britain. In his earlier career, Ruskin championed both J.M.W.Turner and the Pre-Raphaelites, and also celebrated medieval in preference to classical values, notably in The Stones of Venice (first published 1851-53). Later, his views became increasingly conservative, and in 1877 he infamously accused Whistler of “flinging a pot of paint in the public’s face.”

Ruskin advised the NGV on purchases in 1871-2, recommending a modest group of works (listed above). Bernard Hall later mentioned Ruskin as one of those who, in his view, had done comparatively little for the NGV as overseas advisors. The evidence does seem to bear out this criticism, although there were difficulties at the time due to both Ruskin and James Herbert being chosen as advisors in 1871, in preference to the incumbent, Alfred Thomson (Leonard Cox provides details in his NGV history).

See also * Boehm [after] John Ruskin {1876?} Geelong [SC], a bust de-accessioned and transferred to the Geelong Art Gallery in 1943.


For Ruskin as NGV advisor, see Cox NGV (1970), pp.31-32, and also p.113 (quoting Hall’s 1928 critique of Ruskin, and others, for their allegedly insignificant value as overseas advisors). 

Ruskin’s own published writings are literally voluminous, even without considering secondary comment on his ideas and influence. Kenneth Clark’s volumes of excerpts, Ruskin Today (John Murray, 1964) is a helpful starting point. Ruskin’s Whistler review appears in Fors Clavigera (The Works of John Ruskin, ed.E.T.Cook & Alexander Wedderburn, vol.29), London, 1907, letter 79. See also Mark Douglas Stiles, “Reading Ruskin: Architecture and Social Reform in Australia, 1889-1908” (PhD thesis, University of NSW, Sydney, 2010), (available online; copy checked June 2013)