Talk Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Masterpieces or Misdemenours? John Ruskin’s much-loved and most-loathed works of art

Join expert curators and inspiring speakers for our free weekly lunchtime lectures.

  • Wednesday, 4 December 2019

  • The Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Lecture Theatre, South Kensington

  • Free event

Masterpieces or Misdemenours? John Ruskin’s much-loved and most-loathed works of art photo

When John Ruskin visited the South Kensington Museum in 1871 and encountered the life-size sculpture of Lord Dudley’s Newfoundland dog, Bashaw by Matthew Cotes Wyatt, he described it as a ‘worm-cast of a production’. Today it is much loved, holding a central position in the V&A’s British Galleries. Close by is another image of a dog, The Old Shepherd’s Chief Mourner, painted by Edwin Landseer in 1837. Ruskin praised it as ‘one of the most perfect poems’ in ‘language clear and expressive in the highest degree … it ranks as a work of high art, and stamps its author … as the Man of Mind’ (Modern Painters, volume one, 1843). Julius Bryant, Keeper of Word and Image at the V&A, introduces two similar, but so different works of art through Ruskin’s eyes.

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Background image: V&A, Given by John Sheepshanks, 1857