History of Art


New Approaches to Ruskin on Art and Architecture

Organised by

  • Kelly Freeman - UCL
  • Thomas Hughes - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Please note there are 2 days of this conference that require separate bookings.
Day One (UCL)
Day Two (Courtauld)

'Nature always looks strange when she is truly rendered, and is always doing what none of us expect from her'.

John Ruskin, Academy Notes (1858).

'Ruskinian seeing is a set of conversions-from surface phenomena to essences or qualities to energies and finally to a pervasive sentient energy or mind of which all things are manifestations […] This yielding of perception to conception and thought to feeling I take to be the distinguishing character of Ruskinian phenomenology, succinctly adumbrated in the well-known phrase "intellectual lens and moral [that is, emotional] retina" (4, 36)'.

                Paul L. Sawyer, Ruskin's Poetic Argument: The Design of the Major Works (1985).

In advance of his bicentenary in 2019 this conference will provide the opportunity to gather together, present and exchange new approaches by emerging scholars to the work of the nineteenth-century art critic, art writer, art historian, artist and social commentator John Ruskin, with particular emphasis on his work on art and architecture as understood to constitute the kernel of Ruskin's engagement with human society and experience. Since the time of their publication, which spanned the Victorian era, Ruskin's writings have provided ways of thinking about the relationships between art and architecture, society and nature. Ruskin's writings are finding a new readership and critical currency given the emphasis now placed in the arts and humanities on environment, ecology, climate change, organicism and the 'anthropocene'. What of Ruskin's draughtsmanship and his pronouncements on art and architecture in this new light? If Ruskin is finding a place within contemporary discourses of the 'non-human', such as architect Lars Spuybroek's 2011 (revised 2016) manifesto for the construction of digital-Gothic cities The Sympathy of Things, this conference will also consider where Ruskin on art and architecture can take academic discussion about the place of the human being in a now-imperilled nature and an uncertain world.

This event is supported by the Ruskin Society.

Programme (pdf)

Poster (pdf)

DAY 1: Friday 1 December 2017

University College London

History of Art Department

20 Gordon Square


9am Registration
(G02, History of Art Department, 20 Gordon Square)

Session 1: Traces

(Seminar Room 3 & 4, History of Art Department)

Gilles Monney (University of Basel)

The Eye on the Move: Ruskin's Travels in the Alps

Ann van der Kamp (Independent scholar)

John Ruskin's Visual Modes of Research on Venetian Architecture

Lawrence Gasquet (Université Jean Moulin - Lyon 3)

'The Golden Stain of Time': The Ethics of Dust from John Ruskin to Jorge Otero-Pailos

10.30-11am Q&A
11-11.30am Refreshments

Session 2: Memory and Loss

Tino Mager (Delft Technical University)

The Old: John Ruskin and the Introduction of Age to the Heritage Discourse

Ryan Roark (Kohn Pedersen Fox)

The Afterlife of Dying Buildings: Ruskin and Preservation in the Twenty-First Century

Samantha A. Dreyer (University College London)

Purifying the Past: Ruskinian Erasures in the Beaupré Antiphonary?

12.30-1pm Q&A
1-2pm Lunch (Speakers will have lunch provided for them in Seminar Room 6)

Session 3: Gothic Experience

Timothy Chandler (University of Pennsylvania/Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)

Feeling Gothic

David Sorensen (Saint Joseph's University, Philadelphia)

A Conflux of Two Eternities': Carlyle, Ruskin and the Prophetic Revelation of Art and Architecture

Hugues-Antoine Naïk (Université Paris 1 - Panthéon Sorbonne)

Romantic Humanism: Ruskin's Theory of Architectural Experience

3-3.30pm Q&A
3.30-4pm Refreshments

Session 4: Contrasts, Conservation, Practice

Bernard Richards (Brasenose College, University of Oxford)

Ruskin's Habit of Contrasts

Frederick O'Dwyer (Conservation architect and architectural historian, Dublin)

Prophet or Follower? Ruskin and Architectural Conservation

Steve Pool and Kate Genever (Visual Artists)

The Poly-Technic

5-5.30pm Q&A
5.30-7.30pm Drinks Reception