York Art Gallery have an exhibition of Ruskin’s drawings of the Lake district , Switzerland and Venice compared with Turner’s paintings of the same places . There is also a small selection of some of Ruskin’s later daguerrotypes of Switzerland . Interestingly there are also some contemporary commissioned ink drawings and cyanotypes by Emma Stibbons RA of the same places in Switzerland showing the increasing effects of climate change .
Ruskin did some quite good drawings and water colours but it isn’t quite right to call him an artist alongside Turner (” two major artists…”) – he never described himself as one and apparently didn’t sell anything . He was a critic and what would now be called an Art theorist , that is he had firm opinions on what was or wasn’t any good and was quite happy to tell artists what they should be doing . I think it is often forgotten that in his time gentlemen and ladies were taught drawing as they were taught handwriting – and a very good thing too ! Here are some watercolours from Ruskin & Turner to compare :
Ruskin of course famously wrote ” The Stones of Venice” after “Modern Painters” and carried on the tradition of loving the decay etc . Of the buildings he only liked the Gothic by which he meant 14C & 15C – maybe he mentions later or earlier (St Mark’s !) in the book but the excellent hand drawn illustrations shown don’t feature any . Apparently although he visited twice with his wife he studiously avoided the opera , masked balls , firework displays etc. No wonder she left him .
Another Turner in this exhibition which I liked :
You can’t see at this size but it contains 2 figures , a painter and a fisherman . Apparently they are both Turner himself , at work and at play .
All the Turners here are either watercolours or fairly early oil paintings when there were still visible buildings , people , mountains . I had been more familiar with the more abstract &/or ‘Impressionist’ paintings so I appreciated the different opportunity . This exhibition is on until the 23rd of June .
The 50 British Women Artists are showing until 27 July at the Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery of Leeds University . First here are most of my favourites :
I should say that there were some sculptures , mixed media, drawings and quite a few prints using various techniques as well as paintings . There was very little information other than in the catalogue so I had to buy it . £10 is not an unreasonable price and it was full of biographical & historical information , extra illustrations , and very individual appreciations of each work – I only wish it had been a hardback when I could have more easily scanned pages ! 2 things I had not really considered before ; that women who had been to Art School in this era (however talented and acknowledged as such) could not teach in them so had to teach in primary or secondary schools instead and secondly that men’s surnames were a curse . Note that Winifred Nicholson was married to Ben Nicholson and Nancy Nicholson (also in this exhibition) was his sister . Barbara Hepworth also married him and is better known – was this because she had a different name ?
I am going to see both of these again – they are quite wonderful .