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John Ruskin (1819 - 1900)
Related: art criticism - 1800s - Victorian times - UK
Paintings and sculpture created before the 20th century in the Western tradition usually depicted women without pubic hair. John Ruskin was apparently accustomed to these depictions and unaware of the actual appearance of nude women. On his wedding night, he was so shocked by his discovery of his wife Effie's pubic hair that he rejected her, and the marriage was later legally annulled. [Apr 2006]
John Ruskin (February 8, 1819 – January 20, 1900) was an English author, poet and artist, although more famous for his work as art critic and cultural critic. His Modern Painters [1840s] series were responsible for the early popularity of the artist Joseph Mallord William Turner and the pre-Raphaelite movement.
Ruskin was born in London, and spent much of his childhood in Croydon. He was educated at the University of Oxford (Christ Church), where he was awarded a prize for poetry, his earliest interest. It was there that he met Turner. He also worked with the artists Rossetti, Millais, Holman Hunt, John Brett and John William Inchbold. Millais would in due course marry Effie Gray, who had been Ruskin's wife from 1848 until their marriage was annulled.
See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Ruskin
John Ruskin on the grotesqueRuskin's discussions of the grotesque have an additional importance to one concerned to comprehend the writings of the sage, for Ruskin relates it to satire and sublimity, fantasy and horror, epistemology and prophecy -- to those topics, in other words, which play such an important role in this genre. These explanations appear in the last volume of The Stones of Venice (1853) and Modern Painters, volume 3 (1856), and take the form of theoretical descriptions of the artist, which are psychological profiles of the mind that creates this artistic mode, and analyses of works of art and literature that embody it. According to the third volume of Modern Painters, the grotesque has three basic modes or branches, one of which is the fantastic, a comparatively rare form produced by the "healthful and open play of the imagination" (5.131). This delicate fairy art, which is seen "in Shakespere's Ariel and Titania, and in Scott's White Lady," is seldom achieved, says Ruskin, because the "moment we begin to contemplate sinless beauty we are apt to get serious; and moral fairy tales, and such other innocent work, are hardly ever truly, that is to say, naturally, imaginative; but for the most part laborious inductions and compositions. The moment any real vitality enters them, they are nearly sure to become satirical, or slightly gloomy, and so connect themselves with the evil enjoying branch" (5.131-32).--George P. Landow http://www.victorianweb.org/genre/ej/2a3.html [Jun 2004]
John Ruskin and pubic hair [...]Before the twentieth century, fine-art paintings and sculpture in the Western tradition usually depicted women without pubic hair. John Ruskin, the famous author, artist, and art critic, was apparently accustomed to these depictions and unaware of the actual appearance of nude women. On his wedding night, he was so shocked by his discovery of his wife Effie's pubic hair that he rejected her, and the marriage was legally annulled. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pubic_hair#Attitudes [Dec 2004]
Ruskin's sexuality has led to much speculation and critical comment. His one marriage, to Effie Gray, was annulled after six years because of non-consummation. His wife, in her submission to her lawyer during the annulment proceedings, claimed that he found her "person" (meaning her body) repugnant. "He alleged various reasons, hatred to children, religious motives, a desire to preserve my beauty, and finally this last year he told me his true reason... that he had imagined women were quite different to what he saw I was, and that the reason he did not make me his Wife was because he was disgusted with my person the first evening 10th April." Ruskin confirmed this in his own legal deposition. "It may be thought strange that I could abstain from a woman who to most people was so attractive. But though her face was beautiful, her person was not formed to excite passion. On the contrary, there were certain circumstances in her person which completely checked it."
The cause of this mysterious "disgust" has led to much speculation. Ruskin's biographer, Mary Luytens, suggested that he rejected Effie because he was horrified by the sight of her pubic hair. Luytens argued that Ruskin must have known the female form only through Greek statues lacking pubic hair and found the reality shocking. This speculation has been repeated by later biographers and essayists and it is now something that "everyone knows" about Ruskin. However, there is no proof for this, and some disagree. Peter Fuller in his book Theoria: Art and the Absence of Grace writes, "It has been said that he was frightened on the wedding night by the sight of his wife's pubic hair; more probably, he was perturbed by her menstrual blood." Ruskin's biographers Tim Hilton and John Batchelor agree that menstruation is the more likely explanation. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Ruskin [Jun 2006]
Modern Painters (1843, 1846, 1856) - John Ruskin
Modern Painters (1843), Modern Painters II (1846) and Modern Painters III (1856) are books on modern art by John Ruskin. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_Painters [Jun 2006]
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