John Ruskin

1 portrait

John Ruskin, by James Northcote, 1822 - NPG 5973 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

John Ruskin

by James Northcote
oil on linen, 1822
49 7/8 in. x 39 3/4 in. (1267 mm x 1010 mm)
Purchased with help from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and The Art Fund, 1988
Primary Collection
NPG 5973


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Sitterback to top

  • John Ruskin (1819-1900), Writer, artist and social reformer. Sitter associated with 76 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • James Northcote (1746-1831), Painter; pupil and biographer of Sir Joshua Reynolds. Artist associated with 103 portraits, Sitter associated with 23 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Ruskin, the only son of a prosperous wine shipper, became the most influential art theorist of the nineteenth century. Deeply impressed by the work of Turner, whose paintings were frequently reviled by the art press, Ruskin came to prominence with Modern Painters, the first volume of which was published in 1843. This portrait of him as a child was commissioned by his father. At the time the Ruskin family lived in Hunter Street, near the British Museum, and Ruskin sat to Northcote in his studio in Argyll Street. The resulting portrait cost forty guineas and was described by Ruskin in his autobiography Praeterita (1885-9): 'I am represented as running in a field at the edge of a wood with the trunks of its trees striped across in the manner of Sir Joshua Reynolds; whilst two rounded hills, as blue as my shoes, appear in the distance, which were put in by the painter at my own request; for I had already been once, if not twice, taken to Scotland'.

Related worksback to top

  • NPG x12197: View of James Northcote's painting of John Ruskin in John Ruskin's home (includes the portrait)

Linked publicationsback to top