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Arthur Burgess
Dates: British, ?1844 - 1887
Biographical Account:

Arthur Burgess was a wood engraver who asked John Ruskin for illustration work. Ruskin, who wanted to give Burgess employment away from London’s commercial trade, first employed him in 1860 to re-engrave botanical illustrations from the historic Danish book, Flora Danica so that he could use them to illustrate Proserpine, his book on botany. In the following years, Burgess worked with Ruskin in Verona where he drew praise from Ruskin for his drawings in black and white. He also made enlarged diagrams for Ruskin at Oxford so that Ruskin could illustrate his lectures with them.


Although Burgess was not an original ‘artist’, Ruskin described him as ‘such a draughtsman …as I never knew the match of, with gifts of mechanical ingenuity and mathematical intelligence in the highest degree precious to me.’ Like Ruskin, Burgess appeared to suffer from depression and seems to have received from Ruskin a degree of sympathy, friendship and understanding that was unusual in him.

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