George P. Landow, Professor of English and Art History, Brown University
Such recognition that Ruskin wrote in detail about the sublime style demands particular attention, since architectural historians, who apparently cite him without carefully reading his works, frequently charge he pays no attention to the actual appearance of buildings. For example, Carroll Meeks's, The Railroad Station (New Haven, 1956), which makes a fine attempt to define the style of nineteenth-century architecture as "picturesque eclecticism," pretty much dismisses Ruskin with the comment that "the most eloquent and prolific critic of the day . . . dealt less with visual effects than with moral qualities" (7); and while this assertion may often be correct, it does not explain a complete neglect of Ruskin's precise statements about the specifics of architectural style here and in other places. Similarly, Roger B. Stein, John Ruskin and Aesthetic Thought in America, 1840-1900 (Cambridge, Mass., 1967), spends little time on Ruskin's specific notions of style, makes no mention of his idea of sublime architecture, and characterizes The Seven Lamps as only "superficially" (p. 64) a work on architecture.
Last modified 2000