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An Evergreen Lesson in Cultural Heritage: Ruskin, Tintoretto and the Scuola Grande di San Rocco

Clive Wilmer    University of Cambridge, UK    

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abstract

John Ruskin was a writer on a wide variety of subjects, notably art, architecture and questions of social justice, which he always saw in relation to one another. His book The Stones of Venice (1851-53), associates the skill of the medieval Venetian craftsman, his attention to natural forms and his care for his material, with Christian humility in the face of God’s work. The quest for beauty was an ethical matter and art reflected the society that created it. Ruskin had been led to the study of Venice by his discovery in 1845 of the then-neglected painter, Jacopo Tintoretto, whose work in the Scuola Grande di San Rocco overwhelmed him. Tintoretto was not, of course, a medieval artist, but Ruskin believed he was trying to maintain the values of medieval Venice against the pressures of a decadent era. Moreover, Tintoretto had been working for an institution that combined care for art with social responsibility. This paper argues that, when in 1871 Ruskin founded a utopian charity called the Guild of St George, he had the Venetian scuole in mind. ‘Guild’ served as a rough translation of scuola. By this time, he was much preoccupied with Vittore Carpaccio and his work for the Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni as well. St George is the patron saint of England and Carpaccio’s painting of him at war with a fire-breathing monster provided Ruskin with a perfect image of his struggle against the dragons of industrialisation and ruthless competition.

Published
Dec. 31, 2017
Accepted
March 21, 2017
Submitted
Dec. 21, 2016
Language
EN
ISBN (PRINT)
978-88-6969-225-3
ISBN (EBOOK)
978-88-6969-179-9

Keywords: Social justiceGuiltRuskinTintoretto

Copyright: © 2017 Clive Wilmer. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.