Ruskin on Venice


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"The Paradise of Cities"

Robert Hewison

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Venice represented John Ruskin’s ideal of civic society—“The Paradise of Cities,” where culture, government, and faith existed in creative harmony. In this elegant and compelling book, Robert Hewison traces Ruskin’s long and intricate relationship with the city. He shows how Ruskin shed his earlier Romantic vision of the city and developed a harder, clearer conception of neglected Gothic Venice through an intense study of the city's physical fabric that would change the international understanding of the city.

Drawing on the rich resources of Ruskin’s drawings, architectural notebooks, and manuscripts (including previously unpublished daguerreotypes from Ruskin’s own collection), Hewison offers fresh insights into both Ruskin and nineteenth-century Venice and reveals how Ruskin’s work and his connection with the city from youth to old age have helped to shape the image of the Venice we know today.

Published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art

Robert Hewison is Professor of Cultural Policy and Leadership Studies at the City University, London, and Associate at the think tank Demos.

‘Robert Hewison’s Ruskin on Venice, a work whose generous scope and abundance of perspectives make it one of the most rewarding accounts of the man and his achievement ever produced…The lavish illustrations…are the most genuinely illuminating I have seen in a study of this depth. The whole spectacular achievement does honour to its theme.’ — Jonathan Keates, Literary Review

‘The reader is made to feel a distinct affinity between author and subject in the layered depth of this exceptionally detailed study…Hewison’s thought has developed and matured until reaching the fully rounded work of scholarship this book represents.’ — Stephen Wildman, The Art Newspaper

‘The critic’s love of Venice is eloquently examined in this handsomely illustrated book.’ — The Sunday Times

‘Assiduously researched, handsomely illustrated…We should be grateful [to the author] for re-creating Ruskin’s Venetian pilgrimage with such discreet sympathy and deep learning.’ — Kevin Jackson, The Sunday Times

“A high-powered analysis of one of Ruskin’s abiding obsessions.” — Frank Whitford, The Sunday Times

‘Hewison’s truly first-class book, generously illustrated and handsomely produced…. Hewison shows, in scrupulous and engaging detail, how Ruskin learned to shrug off Byronic fictions and to see the city afresh…Hewison resurrects this passionate thinker and charismatic writer with the care, and love, that is surely due.’ — Jonathon Glancey, The Guardian

'In this fascinating book the author draws on Ruskin's drawings, architectural notebooks, and manuscripts to show how his close study of this most famous of cities not only shaped and changed him but also had a profound effect on the way we think about Venice today.' — Good Book Guide

"This book charts in fascinating detail the story of his obsession with the city and the debt it owes him."—Country Life

“Robert Hewison’s absorbing book gives detailed accounts of the circumstances and outcome of each of Ruskin’s visits to Venice…However Ruskin on Venice offers much more than a series of glimpses of its subject at different stages of his life: by linking Ruskin’s various stays in Venice together into a larger evolution of thought, it provides an unfolding drama of his myriad preoccupations and ever-fluctuating state of mind.”

“The importance of Ruskin’s role as guardian of the fabric of a city which he loved but where he suffered great distress is today recognised, both in Italy and abroad. Robert Hewison’s book makes a vast further contribution to that awareness.”—Christopher Newall, Apollo

“The book is a magnificent achievement. A life’s learning finds convincing form across its stylish, readable, and challenging pages…..In it’s penetrating detail, and controlled sweep, Ruskin on Venice makes these positions comprehensible without ever making them seem inevitable.”—Marcus Waithe, The Eighth Lamp – Ruskin Studies Today

ISBN: 9780300121780
Publication Date: February 16, 2010
Publishing Partner: Published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art
500 pages, 7 1/2 x 10
105 b/w + 25 color illus.