RUSKIN’S WORKS, BEAUTIFULLY BOUND AND ILLUSTRATED, INCLUDING FIRST EDITIONS OF THE SEVEN LAMPS OF ARCHITECTURE AND THE STONES OF VENICE, WITH AUTOGRAPH LETTER TO ARTIST/ENGRAVER GEORGE ALLEN
RUSKIN, John. The Seven Lamps of Architecture. WITH: The Stones of Venice. Three volumes. WITH: Modern Painters. Five volumes. WITH: RUSKIN, John. Autograph letter to George Allen, dated October 11, 1875 and initialed. London: Smith, Elder, 1849; 1851-1853; 1851-1860. In all, nine volumes. Quarto, contemporary full blue crushed morocco gilt, raised bands, marbled endpapers, top edges gilt; letter is single sheet of wove stationery, measuring 4-1/2 by 7 inches, folded.
Lovely collection of three of Ruskin’s major works (The Seven Lamps of Architecture and The Stones of Venice in first edition), illustrated with over 150 full-page engravings and beautifully bound in rich contemporary morocco by Zaehnsdorf. Accompanied by an original autograph letter from Ruskin to artist, engraver and friend George Allen, regarding the engraving of one of Ruskin’s drawings and the distribution of several publications, initialed “J.R.”
John Ruskin, writer, critic, and artist, was the foremost dictator of public taste in Victorian England. The Seven Lamps of Architecture, The Stones of Venice and Modern Painters remain three of his most popular and influential works. In them, he champions the Gothic Revival movement in art and decoration, and first puts forward the idea that the Gothic style was supreme for its truth to nature and its moral force. “Taken in the mass, these volumes contain the most valuable contributions to art-literature the language can show… they contain worlds of thought, imagination, and knowledge such as no other art-writer can educe… It is impossible but that Art should be the better for them” (Allibone, 1895). This collection includes the first edition of The Seven Lamps of Architecture, the first edition of The Stones of Venice, and mixed editions of Modern Painters. “Clouds, mountains, landscapes, towers, churches, trees, flowers and herbs were drawn with wonderful precision, minuteness of detail and delicacy of hand, solely to recall some specific aspect of nature or art, of which he wished to retain a record. In his gift for recording the most subtle characters of architectural carvings and details, Ruskin has hardly been surpassed by the most distinguished painters” (NNDB). Artist and engraver George Allen, to whom the accompanying autograph letter is addressed, joined a class in drawing taught by Ruskin at Working Men’s College in 1854, and soon became Ruskin’s assistant. He later resigned his other positions to devote his talents entirely to engraving Ruskin's works. “Ruskin wrote in all over 1,300 letters to George Allen— the men were close friends and their correspondence contains both personal matters and those relating to art and business” (Columbia University). In this letter, Ruskin discusses “the drawing for our first plate, [which he would have sent earlier], but the feather when finished, got a great blot from the ivory ruler! and had to be scratched and repaired… I have no doubt your engraving will be beautiful— my hand shakes a little now with age, or tea drinking, and much spoils my work.” Original cloth covers and spines bound in the rear of each volume. Early owner signatures in some volumes. Armorial bookplate.
A fine collection, beautifully bound and illustrated, with splendid autograph letter.