'The Buttresses of an Alp': Plate from 'Modern Painters', Volume IV
Date Made/Found: late 19th Century
, British, 1819 - 1900
John Henry Le Keux
, British, 1812 - 1896
Material and Medium: photogravure on paper
Dimensions: Support: 432 x 298mm
Accession Number: CGSG00627
'Modern Painters' is a five-volume book written by Ruskin They are an examination of landscape painting but are also a defence of the paintings of JMW Turner, whose work was quite unpopular in his lifetime. Inspired by what he called Turner's 'genius', Ruskin wrote of the need for artists to observe what they paint truthfully and passionately, rather than to produce an idealised and vain account of a scene.
Through this engraving, Ruskin wanted to illustrate the many curves and shapes in a mountain's structure. He encouraged readers to trace the plate and be 'amazed by the complexity, endlessness, and harmony of the curvatures'. Unusually for an author, Ruskin publicly thanked his engraver, Henry le Keux for his efforts in achieving this plate, writing: 'I owe Mr Le Keux sincere thanks, and not a little admiration, for the care and skill with which he has followed, on a much reduced scale, the detail of this drawing.'