|John Ruskin Self-portrait, 1861
|The Garden of San Miniato near Florence, 1845, John Ruskin
|J.M.W. Turner Self-portrait, 1799
|Effie Gray, 1851,
In 1848, Ruskin married Euphemia "Effie" Gray. By all accounts it was a disaster from the first night. In 1854, she obtained a scandalous annulment charging a failure, to consummate their marriage (attested to by a physical examination). Despite the public ridicule stemming from the proceedings, Ruskin never challenged the claim. A year later, with Ruskin's eager acquiescence, Effie modeled for, and later married their good friend, the Pre-Raphaelite painter, John Everett Millais, with whom she later had eight children.
|Order of Release, 1853,
John Everett Millais.
The woman is Effie Ruskin.
Ruskin was something of an artist, and certainly a very vocal and insightful art critic, but we would be remiss in discussing him if we were to limit him to these two areas. Ruskin was a social critic as well, and as he grew older, a forceful writer for socialist causes. Many socialists in England, in fact, well into the 20th century, were much more influenced by his writings than those of Karl Marx. And unlike many other critics of his time, Ruskin's art criticism was always couched in a social context, believing that art was the province of every man, not just the social elite. He was the champion of the single craftsman and the burgeoning Arts and Crafts movement in England at the time; and though a forceful defender in his writings of the lower-class factory workers themselves, he was a loud, even vicious critic of the factories in which they worked and those of his own class who profited from their labors.
|Nocturne in Black and Gold:
The Falling Rocket, 1875,
James McNeill Whistler,
Ruskin: "...flinging a pot
of paint in the public's face."