• Limestone Cleavages at Talloires, France -
    Price on request

    Signed lower right: Limestone Cleavages, Talloires/JR 1862

    Watercolour over pencil heightened with bodycolour on buff paper

    12.3 by 18.7 cm., 4 ¾ by 7 ¼ in.

     

    Provenance:

    North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, their sale, Sotheby’s 31st March 1999, lot 173;

    Private Collection

     

    Literature:

    `Acquisitions’, North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin Biennal Report, Issue IV, no. 2-3, 1st July 1961-30 June 1963, p.64, fig.23;

    Catalogue of Paintings, Volume II, British Paintings to 1900, North Carolina Museum of Art, 1969, no.109

     

    Ruskin spent several months in Switzerland and the Haute-Savoie, France in 1862-3. Talloires is on the east bank of the Lake of Annecy, about twenty-five miles south of Geneva. He was working on a book on Swiss towns and studying the geology of the area. In his Deucalion, published between 1875 and 1883, Ruskin writes: `I quickly saw that the elements of the question were all gathered in the formation of the mountains round the Lake of Annecy: and at Talloires, in the spring of 1862, made a series of studies of them, which only showed me how much more study I wanted.’

  • The Matterhorn from the North-east, Switzerland -
    Price on request

    Signed with initials and inscribed lower centre: State of snow on Matterhorn in 1849. {J.R, on the spot, Aug. 2nd}/Sketch never completed; but if I cut the margin away, I should make the angles false, inscribed lower left: Matterhorn. 2nd August. P. 163. I and numbered 3 upper right

    Watercolour over pencil

    24.2 by 33.7 cm., 9 ½ by 13 ¼ in.

     

    Provenance:

    Given by Ruskin to his Drawing School Collection at Oxford but taken back by him in 1887;

    W.H. Willink by 1912;                                                  

    Anonymous sale, Christie's, 26th September 2007, lot 243, where bought by the present owner

     

    Literature:

    E.T. Cook and Alexander Wedderburn (eds.), The Works of John Ruskin, 1903-1912: vol.5, 1904 (Modern Painters, vol.3), p.xxvii; vol. 6, 1904 (Modern Painters, vol. 4), pl.38 (right) and pp.283 and 288; vol. 21, 1906 (The Ruskin Collection at Oxford), p.278, no. 119; and vol. 38, 1912, (Catalogue of Ruskin's Drawings), p.267, no. 1121;

    E.T. Cook, The Life of John Ruskin, 1911, vol. I, p.250;

    Joan Evans and John Howard Whitehorse (eds.), The Diaries of John Ruskin 1848-1873, 1958, p.416, note 2.

     

    Exhibited:

    Kendal, Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Sublime Inspiration: The Art of Mountains from Turner to Hillary, 1997, ex-catalogue

     

    Engraved:

    By J.C. Armytage for Modern Painters, 1856, vol. 4, pl. 38

     

    Joan Evans and John Howard Whitehorse (eds), The Diaries of John Ruskin 1848-1873, Oxford, 1958, p.416, note 2, where the drawing is incorrectly identified as 'probably' no.1118 in Cook and Wedderburn's catalogue of Ruskin's drawings.

     

    Ruskin first saw the Alps at the age of 14 in 1833. He returned many times including 1835, 1842, 1844, 1845, 1846 and 1849 when the present drawing was executed.

     

    Ruskin’s Swiss Tour of 1849, was intended partly as a rest from his recent undertaking, The Seven Lamps of Architecture, which had been published in May and partly at preparation for further work on his Modern Painters. He arrived at Zermatt on 2 August and remained for a week before returning to Chamonix. The present drawing, was made that first day. Ruskin recorded in his diary: 'A lovely day with sharp north wind. Drawing Matterhorn. Then up to a bed of overhanging rocks which I thought were marble, but found to be a pure and lovely quartz rock in thin folia.' He wrote in more detail to his father, who had remained in Geneva, ‘I had glorious weather, and on Friday… I got up to a promontory projecting from the foot of the Matterhorn and lay on the rocks and drew it at my ease. I was about three hours at work, as quietly as if in my study at Denmkar Hill, though on a peak of barrey crag above a glacier and at least 9000 feet above sea’. (Cook and Wedderburn, op. cit.)

     

    On 9 August, just before leaving, Ruskin made another study of the mountain, but taken from a different angle, from further east from the moat of the Riffelhorn. (now in the Guild of St George at Sheffield) . A third drawing from the same trip is now in the Fogg Museum of Art, Harvard.

     

    Ruskin made detailed descriptions and drawings of the Alps, including of the Matterhorn in Volume IV of Modern Painters, which he sub-titled ‘Of Mountain Beauty’. He not only drew the mountain, but also took a number of photographs in order to check the accuracy of his studies He describes the ‘Matterhorn or Mount Vervin [standing] on the whole unrivalled among the Alps, being terminated on two of its sides, by precipices which produce on the imagination nearly the effect of verticality’ (Cook and Wedderburn, op. cit, p. 283). The first successful ascent of the Matterhorn did not take place until July 1865, despite various attempts, and Ruskin’s detailed drawings and photographs were intended to help the artist and the viewer fully understand the intrinsic nature and form of the mountain. The present drawing, along with the version in the Guild of St George, formed two halves of plate 38, in Modern Painters, which was engraved by J. C. Armytage, an engraver who Ruskin particularly favoured.

     

    Ruskin was fascinated by the effects of perspective on mountains and particularly on the Matterhorn, recording, 'No mountain in the Alps produces a more vigorous impression of peakedness than the Matterhorn. In Professor Forbes's work on the Alps, it is spoken of as an "obelisk" of rock... Naturally … we assume the mass to be a peak. However, Ruskin goes on to explain that the line we assume to be the steep slope of its side, is in fact ‘a perspective line. It is in reality perfectly horizontal…more or less irregular and broken, but so

    nearly horizontal that, after some prolonged examination of the data [he has] collected about the Matterhorn, [he is] at this moment in doubt which is its top. (Cook and Wedderburn, op. cit, p. 224).

     

    Despite the scientific nature of Ruskin’s study and his desire to capture the ‘peakedness’ of the Matterhorn, the romantic nature of the subject with its awe-inspiring dominance of its surroundings clearly captivated the artist.

  • The Towers of Fribourg, Switzerland -
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    Signed with initials lower centre

    Pen and black ink and watercolour over pencil heightened with white on blue paper

    37.2 by 24.6 cm., 14 ½ by 9 ½ in.

     

    Provenance:

    Probably Constance Hilliard, later Mrs W.H. Churchill (1852-1915)

     

    Literature:

    Probably The Works of John Ruskin (The Library Edition), ed. E.T. Cook & A. Wedderburn, 1903-1912, Vol. XXXVIII (inc. Catalogue of Ruskin’s Drawings), no. 737, p. 253

     

    This drawing is likely to be the one of the same size listed in Cook and Wedderburn as `Tower of Fribourg.’ In the Catalogue, the owner is given as Mrs. W.H. Churchill and the date of the drawing as 1856.  This was Constance (Connie) Hilliard, who became Mrs Churchill.  Her husband was the vicar of Reigate, and the present drawing came from a collection very close to Reigate.  Connie Hilliard was the niece of Lady Trevelyan and Ruskin first met her at Wallington in 1863 (when she was 12 years old).  She accompanied Ruskin on his continental tours (Italy and Switzerland) in 1866, 1870 and 1872.  Connie is referred to by Ruskin in a letter of 1866 as “my little daisy”, and in a letter of 1869 Ruskin signed himself to her as “your loving cuzzie”.  In addition to being amongst Ruskin’s closest female friends, she was a lifelong friend of Joan Severn, being the same age as her.  Either Ruskin or Joan could have given Connie the drawing at any time, but it is more likely to have been Ruskin in the 1870s.

     

    Ruskin visited Fribourg in 1854 on his way to Chamonix and again in 1856 when he was planning a series of engravings of Swiss towns to illustrate Swiss history. He was there with his parents from 9th to 14th July 1856 and then returned alone from 23rd August to 2nd September. He wrote `Out of four months on the Continent, I have taken only ten days of whole work, and ten days half work: those were to make some drawings of old bits of Thun and Fribourg, likely to be destroyed before I get back to them again’ (Letter to Pauline, Lady Trevelyan, 26th September 1856). He mainly drew the town’s towers, walls and densely grouped houses. The present drawing shows the Tour des Chats, the Porte de Berne in the foreground, then the Tour des Chats with the Tour Rouge beyond. Fourteen of Fribourg’s medieval towers still exist today mainly to the south and east of the town. 

     

    This drawing appears to be the basis for the watercolour of the same view in the British Museum which was engraved for Modern Painters in 1856, although the watercolour omits the Tour Rouge (see Robert Hewison, Ruskin, Turner and the Pre-Raphaelites, exhibition catalogue, 2000, no.146, p.164, ill.). Ruskin comments on this drawing: `The other day I sketched the towers of the Swiss Fribourg hastily from the Hôtel de Zähringen. It was a misty morning with broken sunshine, and the towers were seen by flickering light through broken clouds, - dark blue mist filling the hollow of the valley behind them.’

     

    Other Fribourg drawings by Ruskin are in the British Museum (2), the Ashmolean, Fitzwilliam, Abbott Hall, the Fogg Art Gallery, Harvard, the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne and the Ruskin Library, Lancaster (2). Many of these drawings are illustrated in John Hayman’s John Ruskin and Switzerland, Wilfred Laurier University Press, 1990, nos. 50-60, pp. 64-77.

     

    We are grateful to Stephen Wildman of the Ruskin Library for his help in cataloguing this drawing.

     

  • St Giles's Cathedral, Edinburgh -
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    Signed lower right: Edinburgh. J Ruskin 1837./signed/1879

    Pencil heightened with touches of white on grey-blue paper on wove paper watermarked: SMITH & AL…/1837, with cut corners

    18.9 by 24.6 cm., 7 ¼ by 9 ½ in.

     

    Provenance:

    Anonymous sale, Christie’s Edinburgh, 30th October 2003, lot 15;

    Private Collection

     

    This drawing dates from Ruskin’s visit to Edinburgh in August 1838 and is one of only about seven known drawings of the city. This may be the vignette which he drawn with the intention of reproducing it in Praeterita, a plan which he later abandoned. We are grateful to Dr James Dearden for his comments on this drawing.


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