Study of Thorns towards 'Modern Painters', Volume V,Artist:
, British, 1826 - 1907
Material and Medium: pencil and watercolour on paper
Dimensions: Frame: 1195 x 864 x 25mm
Sight size: 100 x 430mm
Accession Number: CGSG00281
Allen drew and later engraved this study to help illustrate Ruskin's book 'Modern Painters'. The book considers the beauty and artistic interpretation of nature in landscape painting.
Volume five focuses on the beauty, growth and lifecycle of leaves. This study helps illustrate 'The Law of Deflection' in which Ruskin showed the way leaves 'fall gradually back' from the top of the stem. For Ruskin, the basic character of a tree couldn’t be expressed properly until the artist had drawn and understood its ‘minutest extremities’. He felt that studying a thorny branch like this would give the artist ‘good practice without too much difficulty’.
The large scale of this work also suggests that Ruskin planned to use it as an illustration for one of his lectures, such as 'Tree Twigs', at the Royal Institution in 1861. It has greasy spots at each corner as if it has been stuck up on a wall.