Mountain Rock and Alpine Rose by John Ruskin. 1844-49. Black ink, watercolour. and bodycolour on white paper, 29.8 x 41.4 cm. [detail] Collection: Ruskin Foundation (RF 1395), Ruskin Library, Lancaster University. ©Ruskin Foundation. [Click on image to enlarge it.]

Christopher Newall, who points out that Ruskin had been interested in such giant rocks moved by glaciers since reading the geological works of Agassiz, Forbes, Lyell, describes Mountain Rock and Alpine Rose as follows:

The present drawing shows a stupendous block of stone, with sunlight casting over its exposed surfaces and revealing seams and fissures and places where lichen or moss had established. Its undercut sides and roughly spherical shape indicate that this is not part of the bedrock and that it may be recognized as a so-called erratic boulder, i.e. one that has been transported from its place of geological origin by the movement of a glacier at a time when the ice cover on the north flank of Mont Blanc was more extensive. By contrast, the brown rock in the left foreground, upon which is found the alpine rose of the drawing's title, has a profile that suggests that it is an indigenous variety of stone, having been swept and smoothed into a shape that has been determined by the downward flow of ice. [228, 231]


Newall, Christopher (with contributions by Christopher Baker, Conal Shields, and Ian Jeffrey. John Ruskin Artist and Observer. Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada; London Paul Holberton Publishing, 2014. No. 73. [Review in the Victorian Web]

Ruskin, John. Works, "The Library Edition." eds. E. T. Cook and Alexander Wedderburn. 39 vols. London: George Allen, 1903-1912.

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Last modified 28 February 2014