John Ruskin Biography

John Ruskin (1819 – 1900) was an English writer, philosopher, art critic, and polymath of the Victorian era. He wrote on subjects as varied as architecture, literature, education, myth, ornithology, botany, geology, and political economy.

Education and Early Writings

John Ruskin, 1863, photographed by W. & D. Downey.

John Ruskin, 1863, photographed by W. & D. Downey.

Ruskin was born in London in 1819. He was the only child of a wealthy wine merchant. Ruskin was educated at home by his father and a series of tutors. He showed an early talent for drawing and painting. In 1835, he enrolled at Christ Church, Oxford, where he studied geology and mineralogy.

After graduating from Oxford, Ruskin began writing about art and architecture. His first book, Modern Painters, was published in 1843. It was a critical and commercial success. Ruskin went on to write a series of other books on art and architecture, including The Seven Lamps of Architecture (1849) and The Stones of Venice (1851-53).

Social Commentator

In the 1860s, Ruskin began to turn his attention to social and political issues. He wrote a series of books and essays on poverty, education, and the environment. His most famous work of this period is Unto This Last (1860).

Ruskin’s work was highly influential in the Victorian era. He was one of the most important art critics of his time. His ideas about architecture and design helped to shape the Arts and Crafts Movement. His social and political writings were also influential.

Ruskin died in 1900. He is remembered as one of the most important thinkers of the Victorian era. His work continues to be studied and debated today.

Published Works

Some of Ruskin’s most famous works include:

  • Modern Painters (1843-60)
  • The Seven Lamps of Architecture (1849)
  • The Stones of Venice (1851-53)
  • Unto This Last (1860)
  • Sesame and Lilies (1865)
  • The Ethics of Dust (1866)
  • The Crown of Wild Olive (1866)
  • Time and Tide (1867)
  • The Queen of the Air (1869)
  • Fors Clavigera (1871-84)
  • The Art of England (1884)
  • Praeterita (1885-89)

Ruskin’s work has been criticized for its elitism and its romantic view of nature. However, he is still considered one of the most important figures in the history of art and architecture.