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John Ruskin, H.R.W.S. (1819-1900)

The Castle Rock, Edinburgh

John Ruskin, H.R.W.S. (1819-1900)
The Castle Rock, Edinburgh
with inscription 'By John Ruskin MA. Wm Ward' (lower right, overmounted)
pencil and watercolour, heightened with touches of white on buff paper; and a subsidiary sketch (on the reverse)
17 1/8 x 11 7/8 in. (30.3 x 43.5 cm.)
William Ward.
Hugh Casson.
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Lot Essay

This previously unrecorded work dates from the 1850s. Ruskin first visited Edinburgh in 1853 to deliver his Lectures on Architecture and Painting and the present drawing may be the result of this trip, although there are no other known Edinburgh views from this year, only some drawings executed while he was staying at Glenfinlas. Ruskin returned to Edinburgh in 1857, certainly the drawing was executed on one of these visits as it is too late stylistically for his next visit in 1871. Ruskin wrote in Deucalion 'For familiar examples, take the rocks of Edinburgh Castle... they still retain, with a hollow beneath one of them which for aught I know or care may have been cut by a glacier out of white-hot lava, but assuredly at last got itself filled with pure, sweet, cold water.'

William Ward had trained as a copyist and under Ruskin's supervision succeeded in executing a number of watercolours after Turner that Ruskin held in the highest opinion. Ruskin once wrote: '...let me very fully congratulate you on the extreme skill you have now acquired in rendering Turner's best and most finished water-colour work' (see Ruskin and his Circle, Arts Council Gallery, London, 1964, p. 80). He was also Ruskin's agent for the sale of his Lesson Photographs and had a collection of Ruskin drawings.

We are grateful to Dr James S. Dearden and Stephen Wildman for their help in preparing this catalogue entry.

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