John Ruskin 1819 - 1900
John Ruskin was born in London in 1819. His first visit to Coniston was when he was 5 years old- a visit he never forgot! His father was a wine merchant and was in partnership with Domecq, the sherry people and in the early days of his business he would take his wife and family on his tours.
In 1830 when Ruskin was 11 years old, they had 3 weeks in the Lake District and during that time he wrote this poem:
When Dinner was over, as still it did rain
We thought that we scarcely need longer remain:
So, ordered the carriage, and with no good will,
We ordered the pest of all travels-the bill.
His Father was a great lover of the arts and countryside and therefore encouraged his son to paint and to write poems about his travels. Some of these travels have taken him around Europe.
When he was 17, he fell in love with Adele Domecq, the daughter of his father's partner.When this relationship failed it had a big effect on his future love life. In 1836 he went to Oxford with his mother. They stayed in lodgings close by, but with his mother watching over him, his social life was rather constrained. His father gave him a generous allowance and in 1869 Ruskin was appointed Slade Professor of Fine Art at Oxford University.
Whilst at Oxford he began to collect paintings by Turner, who was being condemned for his abstract style. This led to the first volume of his great classic work, Modern Painters, which appeared in 1843 when Ruskin was 24 years old. It proved to be a success although Turner was slightly embarrassed by the passionate defense from a young man.
Ruskin wrote books, gave lectures, collected and encouraged painters by purchasing their works with his private wealth. He was a great friend of Rosetti, Burne-Jones and Millais.
In 1848, he married Effie Gray, who was the daughter of a Scottish friend of his family. This marriage came to an end in 1854, with Effie running off with Millais. Ruskin had a relationship with a young girl called Rose La Touche. He seemed to like young girls and was always writing letters to them and having intense relationships.
In 1871, he purchased Brantwood
for the sum of one £1500, calling it dilapidated and dismal, but he purchased it for it's excellent views. Ruskin moved into the house with his cousin, Joan Severn and began rebuilding. Extra rooms were added, one known as fancy bedroom tower. He also purchased some of the land surrounding the house.
He was 52 when he moved into the property and lived there until he died in 1900 at the age of 80. From the time he moved into Brantwood, he began to write many books, including his autobiography, with prominent people from around that time, visiting him.
He was involved in many activities in the local area, loving nature and the Lakeland way of life. He never remarried and the final years of his life he suffered with mental illness and depression.
He was described by Tolstoy as "One of the most remarkable men, not only of England and our time but of all countries at all times, he was of those rare men who think with their hearts".
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