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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
From Bud to Fruit: The Life History of a Cherry, 'Buds Breaking Open and Developed Leaves'CGSG00135 Ruskin Collection 18811450
Study of Stained Glass, 'Aaron', Santa Croce, Florence, ItalyCGSG00192 Ruskin Collection 18871450
Study of Mosaic, ' King David and the Madonna', South Aisle, San Marco, Venice, ItalyCGSG00201 Ruskin Collection 18791450
Illustrations to Thornton's 'Pastorals of Virgil', 'Thenot under a Fruit Tree'CGSG00205 Ruskin Collection 1820-18211450
Rampart Walls and Cottages, with the Church of St Martin, Laon, FranceCGSG00227 Ruskin Collection 18861450
Study of Mosaic, 'The River Phison', Spandril, Central Dome, San Marco, Venice, ItalyCGSG00239 Ruskin Collection 1879-18841450
Sculptured Doorway, Troyes, FranceCGSG00240 Ruskin Collection 18901450
Study of Mosaic, 'Christ surrounded by the Principalities and Powers of Heaven', Baptistery Dome, San Marco, Venice, ItalyCGSG00274 Ruskin Collection 18791450
Hooping CraneCGSG00277 Ruskin Collection 18341450
Columbia JayCGSG00287 Ruskin Collection 18321450
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