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Ruskin Collection

The Ruskin Collection, known officially as the Collection of the Guild of St George was created by John Ruskin (1819-1900), an influential Victorian writer.

Throughout the mid 1800s, Ruskin gained fame by writing about art, architecture, geology and landscapes.By the 1870s Ruskin's interest had turned to social policy, and he founded the Guild of St George with the aim of making England a better place for the everyday worker. With the help of his Guild, Ruskin put together this collection to display in Sheffield as a creative and educational tool for Sheffield’s metalworkers.

The collection is an eclectic mix that reflects Ruskin’s many interests. Early renaissance art, gothic architecture, Albrecht Dürer and JMW Turner’s engravings, mosaic decoration, Japanese cloisonné enameling, illustrations of birds, flowers, insects and landscapes all have their place. In addition, Ruskin added collections of geology and coins, and a library of illustrated books and medieval manuscripts. The Guild of St George has since added to the collection with drawings and paintings, late Victorian photographs and pieces from the Ruskin Linen Industry.

Most of the drawings and watercolours in the collection were carried out by Ruskin’s assistants, who carefully copied paintings by Italian painters of the late 1400s and, made detailed records of gothic architecture and byzantine mosaic using pencil, watercolour and plaster cast. Other pieces come via Ruskin’s own collections of nature drawing, engraving and books. Few watercolours are by Ruskin himself, but everything he included was given with a set purpose to educate and inspire.

The Ruskin Collection is still owned by the Guild of St George, but is maintained and displayed by Museums Sheffield.

You can search the collection online here, find out more using the menu on the left of this page, or visit the permanent exhibition at the Millennium Gallery - click here for details. Please note that whilst the permanent exhibition frequently rotates items from the Ruskin Collection, it is not possible to display all of the collection at any one time.

Show Objects
Name of ObjectAccession NumberCollectionDate Made/FoundSorted AscendingTimes Viewed
Pescate, from Pescarenico near Lecco, ItalyCGSG00503 Ruskin Collection 1885759
Study of five InsectsCGSG01140 Ruskin Collection 1790-1813759
Study of MurexCGSG01136 Ruskin Collection 1800-1804759
Study of an OrchidCGSG00513 Ruskin Collection 1868-1876759
Mr Briggs is Weighed of CourseCGSG00548 Ruskin Collection 1851759
The Irish Cinderella and her haughty Sisters, Britannia and CaledoniaCGSG00588 Ruskin Collection 1846759
Mr Briggs' Hunting Cap comes HomeCGSG00680 Ruskin Collection 1849759
A Plain QuestionCGSG00693 Ruskin Collection 1847759
Mr Briggs tries (for many hours) a likely place for a PerchCGSG00699 Ruskin Collection 1850759
Mrs Constable interrupting Clara and HerbertCGSG00701 Ruskin Collection 1845759
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