The Making of the Mountains: John Ruskin and the Geology of the Hills

Ruskin’s love affair with mountains began in his youth and lasted his entire life. His childhood interest in geology was also a passion for mountain landscapes. He saw mountains from both a scientific and an artistic viewpoint, uplifted by their beauty and fascinated by their structure. The earliest drawings in this show were made when Ruskin was a teenager and discovering the Alps for the first time. His father’s business partner had given him a continental travel book ‘Italy’ by Samuel Rogers, illustrated by J M W Turner. Ruskin’s diaries reveal how detailed his study of geology was, and the many techniques of imaging the mountains, including some of the very first photographic pictures of the Alps, were an important part of his research. As a teacher of art Ruskin’s writings increasingly used visual aids, exploring both the macro and micro worlds of mountain formation and erosion. Ruskin never lost his eye for the beauty of the hills, combining inspiration with investigation. Throughout his life he collected minerals. He used to say that ‘a rock when it is examined closely will be found to be a mountain in miniature’. The displays of minerals here and in the Treasury are a small fragment of the vast collection that he amassed and through which he deepened his study of mountains.

Event Information

Date & Time:18th March - 25th May 2020

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