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Venice 2014

Influence of Ruskin's Political Awakening

William Morris, Original design for Trellis wallpaper

William Morris, original design for Trellis wallpaper

The largest impact on art that Ruskin's social writing had was inspiring the Arts and Crafts Movement. One of Ruskin’s greatest supporters was William Morris, the father of the Arts and Crafts movement in England. Following many of the principles that Ruskin laid out in The Stones of Venice and Unto This Last, Morris wanted art to be a force for social good.[1] Primarily intended as a way to encourage craftsmanship and affordable furniture, homes, and decoration for the working class, the Arts and Crafts movement was the foundation of Utopian art movements through the late 19th century and into the 20th. Through the writing of John Ruskin, artist and theorist were brought to have a deep care for the common man and his aesthetic experience.



[1] Abse, Joan. John Ruskin: The Passionate Moralist. New York: Quartet Books, 1980.

William Morris, Original design for Trellis wallpaper

William Morris, original design for Trellis wallpaper

The largest impact on art that Ruskin's social writing had was inspiring the Arts and Crafts Movement. One of Ruskin’s greatest supporters was William Morris, the father of the Arts and Crafts movement in England. Following many of the principles that Ruskin laid out in The Stones of Venice and Unto This Last, Morris wanted art to be a force for social good.[1] Primarily intended as a way to encourage craftsmanship and affordable furniture, homes, and decoration for the working class, the Arts and Crafts movement was the foundation of Utopian art movements through the late 19th century and into the 20th. Through the writing of John Ruskin, artist and theorist were brought to have a deep care for the common man and his aesthetic experience.



[1] Abse, Joan. John Ruskin: The Passionate Moralist. New York: Quartet Books, 1980.

John Ruskin, Study of the North-West Portico of St. Marks

John Ruskin, Study of the North-West Portico of St. Marks, 1877

Besides writing one of the most complete architectural studies of Venice, Ruskin’s greatest contribution to the city of Venice was his work on fighting the disastrous restoration work on St. Mark. Beginning in the second half of the 19th century, the city of Venice took to the restoration of St. Mark after it was in very poor condition. Ruskin’s fight against restoration and fighting for conservation was based in his social concerns. Primarily by restoring, the city of Venice was destroying the history of St. Marks and making St. Marks ‘dishonest.’[1] Through petitioning and popular articles, Ruskin was able to get the city to fund skilled conservators instead of the crooked restorers that it had been hiring for the project. Thanks to Ruskin some of the mosaics of St. Mark have been preserved, most importantly the North-West portico.



[1] Hewison, Robert. Ruskin on Venice: "The Paradise of Cities". New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009.

John Ruskin, Study of the North-West Portico of St. Marks

John Ruskin, Study of the North-West Portico of St. Marks, 1877

Besides writing one of the most complete architectural studies of Venice, Ruskin’s greatest contribution to the city of Venice was his work on fighting the disastrous restoration work on St. Mark. Beginning in the second half of the 19th century, the city of Venice took to the restoration of St. Mark after it was in very poor condition. Ruskin’s fight against restoration and fighting for conservation was based in his social concerns. Primarily by restoring, the city of Venice was destroying the history of St. Marks and making St. Marks ‘dishonest.’[1] Through petitioning and popular articles, Ruskin was able to get the city to fund skilled conservators instead of the crooked restorers that it had been hiring for the project. Thanks to Ruskin some of the mosaics of St. Mark have been preserved, most importantly the North-West portico.



[1] Hewison, Robert. Ruskin on Venice: "The Paradise of Cities". New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009.

Gandhi Photo

Photo of Gandhi in London, 1931

Gandhi was the leader of Indian independence movement from British colonial rule

Probably the most surprising influence that Ruskin’s political writing had was on Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi had stated that John Ruskin’s Unto This Last was one of the most influential books he read in his life. He attributes it to inspiring him in South Africa to abandoning his pursuit of being a lawyer and beginning an austere life on a commune.[1] Gandhi found the book so important, he even wrote an abridged (or paraphrased as he called it) version of Unto This Last in Gujarati.



[1]Gandhi, M.K.. Unto this last: Ruskin a paraphrase. 2nd ed. Ahmedabad: Navajivan Pub. House, 1956.

Gandhi Photo

Photo of Gandhi in London, 1931

Gandhi was the leader of Indian independence movement from British colonial rule

Probably the most surprising influence that Ruskin’s political writing had was on Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi had stated that John Ruskin’s Unto This Last was one of the most influential books he read in his life. He attributes it to inspiring him in South Africa to abandoning his pursuit of being a lawyer and beginning an austere life on a commune.[1] Gandhi found the book so important, he even wrote an abridged (or paraphrased as he called it) version of Unto This Last in Gujarati.



[1]Gandhi, M.K.. Unto this last: Ruskin a paraphrase. 2nd ed. Ahmedabad: Navajivan Pub. House, 1956.

Influence of Ruskin's Political Awakening