Portrait of John Ruskin

Sir Hubert von Herkomer British, born Germany
Sitter John Ruskin British

Not on view

As a leading critic of the Victorian era, Ruskin wrote on aesthetics, art and architecture and was himself a collector and accomplished watercolorist. Herkomer based this study on his own watercolor portrait of 1879 (National Portrait Gallery, London), that he showed at the Grosvenor Gallery in 1881. In 1880, the artist created a related mezzotint published by the Fine Art Society and likely made the present drawing around the same time for Henry Blackburn's "Grosvenor Notes" (1881). The latter periodical often asked artists whose works were being reviewed to supply a drawing for reproduction, and in this case photo-typography was used. Herkomer and Ruskin had bonded when the latter as Slade Professor of Fine Art at Oxford and Herkomer took up the position. The connection encouraged Ruskin, who did not think highly of his own appearance, to agree to sit. In a letter to Sara Anderson of December 1, 1879, the critic wrote, “I’ve been quite a prisoner to Mr. Herkomer who has, however, made a beautiful drawing of me, the first that has ever given what good may be gleaned out of the clods of my face." At the Met, Herkomer's related mezzotint (44.84(1)) is bound with a set architectural prints after drawings by Ruskin, titled "Examples of Architecture of Venice," 1851.

Portrait of John Ruskin, Sir Hubert von Herkomer (British, Waal, Bavaria 1849–1914 Budleigh Salterton, Devon), Graphite with touches of pen and black ink

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