Network Books


'A New and Noble School': Ruskin and the Pre-Raphaelite, ed. by Stephen Wildman, introduced by Robert Hewison

'A New and Noble School': Ruskin and the Pre-Raphaelite, ed. by Stephen Wildman, introduced by Robert Hewison


Paperback – 150 x 215 mm – 310 pages

In 1851 John Ruskin came to the defence of the young artists of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood by writing two letters to The Times, refuting widespread criticism of their paintings. Soon afterwards he published a pamphlet entitled Pre-Raphaelitism, beginning almost a decade of public support for the work of William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais and their associates.

Already established as one of the leading writers on art, he took a personal risk in defending the Pre-Raphaelite cause, but saw a parallel in the hostile reaction to the paintings of his artistic idol J. M. W. Turner. In Millais especially, Ruskin hoped to nurture a worthy successor in landscape painting, arguing that the Pre-Raphaelites’ attention to truth and detail offered the opportunity to establish a ‘new and noble school’ of British art.

This is the first compilation of all of Ruskin’s published writings relating to the Pre-Raphaelites, beginning with the celebrated passage in the first volume of Modern Painters (1843) exhorting young artists to ‘go to nature in all … rejecting nothing, selecting nothing and scorning nothing’, later claimed by Hunt to have been an inspiration. As well as Pre-Raphaelitism (1851), rarely reprinted since, and the fourth of the 1853 Edinburgh lectures, it includes all the comments on paintings in the annual Academy Notes (1855-9) which pertain to Pre-Raphaelitism, underlining Ruskin’s significant contribution to the movement’s popular success and the widespread acceptance of its principles. From the period after 1860, when Ruskin was concentrating more on social issues, come the the little-known articles published in the Nineteenth Century magazine under the title ‘The Three Colours of Pre-Raphaelitism’ (1878), and a number of lectures, including the last of his Slade Lectures, ‘The Art of England’ (1883), delivered just a few years before his mental faculties failed.

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