In celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of John Ruskin (1819–1900), the most influential art critic of the Victorian era, the Gallery presents more than 80 paintings, watercolors, and drawings created by American artists who were profoundly influenced by Ruskin’s call for a revolutionary change in the practice of art. The exhibition includes a number of recently discovered works never before exhibited publicly.
Ruskin’s rejection of traditional academic art and his plea for works that reflected a deep reverence for both the spiritual and scientific qualities of the natural world found a sympathetic audience in America among a group of like-minded artists, architects, scientists, critics, and collectors.
New research, included in the exhibition catalog, reveals that the members of the Association for the Advancement of Truth in Art sought reform not only in the practice of art, but also in the broader political arena. Members of the group followed Ruskin’s dictum to record the natural world with strict fidelity, but they also created works that often include a rich political subtext.
Whether or not you go, the exhibition catalog, The American Pre-Raphaelites: Radical Realists, provides an illuminating look at how the Pre-Raphaelite movement was embraced by a group of vanguard American artists This beautiful book analyzes the history and historiography of the American Pre-Raphaelites, and how the movement made its way from England to America. Led by Thomas Charles Farrer—an English expatriate and acolyte of the hugely influential English critic John Ruskin—the American Pre-Raphaelite artists followed Ruskin’s dictum to depict nature close up and with great fidelity. Many members of the group (including Farrer, who served in the Union army during the American Civil War) were also abolitionists, and several created works with a rich political subtext. Featuring the work of artists such as Fidelia Bridges, Henry and Thomas Charles Farrer, Charles Herbert Moore, Henry Roderick Newman, and William Trost Richards, this generously illustrated volume is filled with insightful essays that explore the influence of Ruskin on the American artists, the role of watercolor and photography in their work, symbolism and veiled references to the Civil War, and much more.