John Ruskin: Artist and Observer

Scottish National Portrait Gallery

4 July – 29 September 2014

£4 with National Art Pass (standard entry £8)

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Little-known works by the famous aesthete and art critic.

Author of Modern Painters and passionate champion of JMW Turner and the Pre-Raphelite movement, John Ruskin is better known for writing about art than he is for producing it. But, as this exhibition sets out to reveal, he was in fact a talented draughtsman and watercolour painter who drew inspiration from across the natural world and architectural subjects. 

In his role as a critic, Ruskin expressed the view that the artist's principal concern should be a moral and material 'truth to nature' - a feat which he praises Turner for. It's an ideology that also permeates his own work, as demonstrated here through his highly detailed depictions of gothic palaces in Venice, wild Scottish and Alpine landscapes and studies of birds and plants.

A collaboration with the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, the exhibition's showing in Edinburgh marks Ruskin's Scottish heritage. Born to a Scottish family he visited the country many times, remarking on the beauty of its landscapes and its strong literary culture. 

Venue information

Opening times

Daily, 10am – 5pm (Thu until 7pm)

Closed 25 – 26 Dec

"Art Fund" is the operating name of the National Art Collections Fund, a charity registered in England and Wales (209174) and Scotland (SC038331)