Sign on
Collection of the Guild of St George, Museums Sheffield
Two Detached Rays of a Peacock's Breast Feather, Enlarged Three Times
Date Made/Found: 1873
Artist: John Ruskin , British, 1819 - 1900
Material and Medium: watercolour on paper
Dimensions: Mount: 408 x 280mm Support: 282 x 196mm
Department: Ruskin
Accession Number: CGSG00010
Ruskin felt that by drawing and studying feathers people would enter 'a new world of beauty’. He described too the difficulty of painting the ‘rainbow iridescence’ of peacock feathers without having ‘heaven to dip my brush in’. This study is typical of Ruskin’s interest in learning through concentrated observation, showing individual filaments from a single feather. He described them in detail: 'There are about thirty of these glowing filaments on each side (the whole being no larger across than a well-grown currant), and each of these is itself another exquisite feather, with central quill and lateral webs, whose filaments are not to be counted. The extremity of these breast plumes parts slightly into two, as you see in the peacock's, and many other such decorative ones.' Although Ruskin admired the exquisite beauty and even the practicality of a peacock's plumage, he was less sure about peacocks themselves. He described them as one of the most beautiful things on earth, but also the most useless.
Display Location: In Store
gPowered byeMuseum

Museums Sheffield

Trying something new can be a little bit scary, but what a great feeling when you make the connection. We're trying new things all the time and we want you to try them too, so come with us and we'll help connect you with art, nature, history, ideas - and each other.

Jump in. Discover something new.

Explore our site