Ruskin, John. "Ruskin on the Fine Arts: Award of the Liverpool Academy's Prize to the Picture of the Blind Girl" Albion [Liverpool] 33.1659 (11 Jan. 1858), 4

full text

I believe the Liverpool Academy has, in its decisions of late years, given almost the first instance on reocrd of the entirely just and beneficial working of academical system. Usually such systems have degenerated into the application of formal rules, or the giving partial votes, or the distribution of a partial patronage; but the Liverpool awards have indicated at once the keen perception of new forms of excellence, and the frank honesty by which alone such new forms can be confessed and accepted. I do not, however, wonder at the outcry. People who suppose the pre-Raphaelite work to be only a condition of meritorious eccentricity, naturally suppose, also, that the consistent preference of it can only be owing to clique. Most people look upon paintings as they do on plants or minerals, and think they ought to have in their collections specimens of everybody’s work, as they have specimens of all earths or flowers. They have no conception that there is such a thing as a real right and wrong, a real bad and good, in the question. However, you need not, I think, much mind. Let the Academy be broken up on the quarrel; let the Liverpool people buy whatever rubbish they have a mind to; and when they see, as in time they will, that it is rubbish, and find, as find they will, every pre-Raphaelite picture gradually advance in influence and in value, you will be acknowledged to have borne a witness all the more noble and useful, because it seemed to end in discomfiture; though it will not end in discomfiture. I suppose I need hardly say anything of my own estimate of the two pictures on which the arbitrament has arisen. I have surely said often enough, in good black type already, what I thought of pre-Raphaelite works, and of other modern ones. Since Turner’s death I consider that any average work from the hand of any of the four leaders of pre-Raphaelitism (Rossetti, Millais, Hunt, John Lewis) is, singly, worth at least three of any other pictures whatever by living artists.

This document was scanned/transcribed from the original source.

Copyright © 1999 Thomas J. Tobin.

Return to the list of reviews