Facade of the Duomo, Lucca, ItalyArtist:
Henry Roderick Newman
, American, about 1843 - c.1917
Material and Medium: watercolour and bodycolour on paper
Dimensions: Frame: 880 x 745 x 45mm
Sight size: 775 x 632mm
Accession Number: CGSG00248
Ruskin greatly admired San Martino, writing that the inlaid carvings on the façade 'struck [him] dumb with admiration and amazement.' He commissioned this view of the façade from Newman, sending him a pencil sketch of the viewpoint he wanted him to work from.
Unfortunately though, Ruskin did not admire Newman's finished work, calling it an 'unhappy drawing'. Newman had painted it using only four basic paint colours, and Ruskin wrote on the pencil sketch that Newman 'lost himself and me, alike, in his unhappy egotism of Ultramarine - Rose madder & Yellow ochre!'
Nevertheless, Newman paid particular attention to the inlaid carvings that Ruskin so much admired. They date from the early 1200s and depict scenes of figures, animals, hunting scenes and flowers. This is a style known as 'Lucchese Romanesque' and at San Martino was carried out under one particular sculptor, Guido Bigarelli, also known as Guidetto.