The Church of San Nicola, Pisa, ItalyArtist:
, Italian, 1854 - 1931
Material and Medium: watercolour on paper
Dimensions: Mount: 398 x 303mm
Support: 300 x 219mm
Accession Number: CGSG00054
This view shows San Nicola’s irregular building structure and patchy decorative scheme. Most of the decoration dates from the 1100s, and comprises marble facing and a type of ornamentation known as 'marble intarsia'. This is made by cutting different coloured stones into shapes to create a mosaic effect. John Ruskin greatly admired this type of decoration, partly because he felt craftsmen humbly celebrated nature by making use of simple but effective shapes and naturally decorative materials.
Ruskin also commissioned watercolours of the marble wall and its decorative detail in an effort to encourage Britain to design more colourful buildings. He described the set as 'exquisite' and ‘the most beautiful drawings of architecture [he] ever had’. It is likely that JE Southall, an architect Ruskin commissioned to design a new St George’s Museum in Bewdley, Worcestershire saw these watercolours as his designs for the decoration are very similar.