Though the eminent 19th-century British critic and watercolorist John Ruskin never set foot in the United States, his writings were widely read here. American artists eagerly took up his call for the meticulous depiction of nature and the preservation through copying of some of the ﬁnest works of civilization before time or misguided restoration overtook them. His inﬂuence was disseminated by the legendary Charles Eliot Norton, the nation’s ﬁrst professor of art history, who taught at Harvard from 1874 to 1898, and by Norton’s protégé Charles Herbert Moore. The Last Ruskinians is the catalogue of an exhibition that traces Ruskin’s impact on these teachers, their students, and many other artists and collectors.
The works represented here include ﬂoral studies, landscapes, architectural details, views of Venice, and copies after ancient, medieval, and Renaissance art. Most are in watercolor, Ruskin’s favorite medium. Included are ten works by Ruskin himself, all drawn from the Harvard collections, and twice as many by his friend Moore, a Harvard drawing instructor and the Fogg Art Museum’s ﬁrst director. Also represented are works by Henry Roderick Newman, an American in Florence whose art was widely admired, and works by a second generation of American Pre-Raphaelite painters, including Joseph Lindon Smith, Harold Broadﬁeld Warren, and George Hawley Hallowell.
An essay by Theodore E. Stebbins Jr., with Susan C. Ricci discusses the inﬂuence of Ruskin and of Norton, who shaped the taste of some of Boston’s greatest connoisseurs and collectors, including Isabella Stewart Gardner, Bernard Berenson, and Denman W. Ross. The essays by Virginia Anderson and Melissa Renn explore the life of Charles Herbert Moore, his little-known but exquisite watercolors, and his contribution to the teaching of art and art history at Harvard.
Theodore E. Stebbins Jr. is the curator of American Art, Virginia Anderson is assistant curator of American art, and Melissa Renn is curatorial assistant in the Department of American Painting, Sculpture, and Decorative Arts at the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University Art Museums. Susan C. Ricci is an independent scholar.
This publication was funded by the Henry P. McIlhenny Fund in the Andrew W. Mellon Publication Funds.
Published in conjunction with an exhibition at the Fogg Art Museum, April 7–July 8, 2007.