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Distributed for Reaktion Books

The Art of Ruskin and the Spirit of Place

English art critic John Ruskin was one of the great visionaries of his time, and his influential books and letters on the power of art challenged the foundations of Victorian life. He loved looking. Sometimes it informed the things he wrote, but often it provided access to the many topographical and cultural topics he explored—rocks, plants, birds, Turner, Venice, the Alps. In The Art of Ruskin and the Spirit of Place, John Dixon Hunt focuses for the first time on what Ruskin drew, rather than wrote, offering a new perspective on Ruskin’s visual imagination. Through analysis of more than 150 drawings and sketches, many reproduced here, he shows how Ruskin’s art shaped his writings, his thoughts, and his sense of place.

288 pages | 100 color plates, 80 halftones | 7 1/4 x 9 3/4

Art: British Art

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Ruskin Society Book Prize 2021

"Dixon contends that, far from being mere illustrations to his writings, Ruskin’s drawings were the first necessary step in his approach to beauty, words coming second. The aim of the book is to examine how Ruskin saw things, how he learnt to look at places, in particular, and how to represent them."


"This beautifully produced book takes readers on a closely and sensitively observed grand tour of Ruskin’s pictorial imagination. In a moving return to an early subject, Hunt supplies this bibliographic equivalent of Ruskin’s restless journeying, a visual odyssey in honor not only of the places he cared about, but also of his sense of place, understood physically, emotionally, spiritually, chromatically. The images reproduced here are more than illustrations: thanks to Hunt’s hospitality and judgement as a guide, they take their place as staging-posts along a beguiling travelers’ road."

Marcus Waithe, Magdalene College, University of Cambridge

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