Spur of Piazetta Shaft Venice

JOHN RUSKIN HRWS (1819-1900)
PRE-RAPHAELITE (founded 1848) Biography

Spur of Piazetta Shaft Venice (Italy, 1861)

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Pen and black ink, pencil and brown washes on paper
, inscribed beneath the drawing Spur of Piazzetta Shaft, Venice (Two Vintners) Note wine carved, running out of bottle


14.50cm high
19.50cm wide
(5.71 inches high)
(7.68 inches wide)
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Exhibition History

Chichester, The Tudor Room, The Bishop's Palace, The Continetal Muse, British Painters in Europe from Turner to the Present Day, July 1992, number 11

Description / Expertise

The present drawing is a study of the spur of a shaft on the Piazzetta San Marco, Venice. Ruskin studied this building exhaustively in preparation for his famous three volume work, The Stones of Venice (1851-1853) and the drawing was probably made at this time, although Ruskin does not appear to have discussed this carving specifically in the book.

In the first volume of the Stones of Venice Ruskin asserted that the human form was the noblest subject for architectural ornament: this latter, the chief subject of sculpture, being sometimes the end of architecture rather than its decoration.(1) In making this drawing, Ruskin may have wished to record a scene that he could use to comment on the society that produced it. However he was also interested in the texture of aging stone and a constant enemy of insensitive restoration.(2) This drawing also insists upon the veining of the stone and the effect of time upon the sculpture.

1. John Ruskin, The Stones of Venice, chapter 20, paragraph 36
2. see: John Ruskin, The Seven Lamps of Architecture, 'The Lamp of Memory', section XVIII