John Ruskin

Published on Tuesday 4 February 2014

Though we have now twice worked towards a comprehensive exhibition of John Ruskin’s daguerreotypes, collaborating on each occasion with a major UK museum alongside co-curator Ian Warrell (formerly of the Tate Gallery), neither has come to fruition. The show seems fated not to occur.
In the meantime, 2014 still looks like a good year for Ruskin and photography. The Watts Gallery in Compton, Surrey currently has John Ruskin Photographer and Draughtsman mostly works from the Ruskin Library in Lancaster, including 20 daguerreotypes; it runs until the 20th of June. In Ottawa, starting on the 14th February at the National Gallery of Canada, is John Ruskin: Artist and Observer, highlighting Ruskin’s beautiful drawings but also including a smaller number of daguerreotypes (two from our collection). The exhibition closes on the 11th of May and transfers to the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh on the 4th of July, running until the 28th of September.
Our own book, to be published by Bernard Quaritch, will be called Carrying Off the Palaces: John Ruskin’s Lost Daguerreotypes which we hope to be on the shelves during the first half of this year. The work will explore many aspects of Ruskin’s involvement with photography centred on the discovery we made in 2006 of 188 previously unknown Ruskin daguerreotypes. As well as comprising a monograph of Ruskin's photographic work, there will be a catalogue raisonné showing all of the 325 known daguerreotypes that Ruskin purchased, commissioned or took himself, the majority being previously unpublished. The surprisingly frequent combination of fine technical quality and radical composition from a man better known as a great art critic, writer and social reformer, is one that has rarely been seen in the history of the daguerreotype and we hope will be found as exciting to others as it has been to us.

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