'The Vine Free and in Service', Study towards 'The Stones of Venice', Volume II
Date Made/Found: 1851-1853
, British, 1819 - 1900
Material and Medium: pencil on paper
Dimensions: Frame: 438 x 322mm
Sight size: 225 x 138mm
Accession Number: CGSG00009
‘The Stones of Venice’ was a book written and illustrated by Ruskin. He published it in three volumes between 1851 and 1853 and it reads not only as a guide to Venice's architectural style and history, but also as a moral guide and account of its social politics.
Ruskin spent long periods in Venice and studied the architecture in minute detail, so that he could produce the book. This drawing shows part of a porch of the Basilica of San Marco, and it appears as Plate 6 in the second volume. Ruskin was trying to show the beauty of Byzantine abstract leaf carving in comparison with real leaves. He developed the drawing much further for the finished plate, adding patterned sculpture to the empty roundels and the spandrel (the arch shape), and shadows to the sculpted leaves and drapes on the figure.
The drawing was reproduced for the book using steel engraving by J C Armytage.