Stonehenge. Drawn by J. M. W. Turner. 1838. Engraving. From Picturesque Views in England and Wales. Photograph by Elizabeth K. Helsinger from a copy in the Joseph Regenstein Library, the University of Chicago. [Click on image to enlarge it.] [Plate 15 in Helsinger's Ruskin and the Art of the Beholder.]

Ruskin's comments on this work

The Stonehenge is perhaps the standard of storm-drawing, both for the overwhelm- ing power and gigantic proportions and spaces of its cloud forms, and for the tremendous qualities of lurid and sulphurous colours which are gained in them. All its forms are marked with violent angles, as if the whole muscular energy, so to speak, of the cloud were writhing in every fold: and their fantastic and fiery volumes have a peculiar horror, an awful life, shadowed out in their strange, swift, fearful outlines which oppress the mind more than even the threatening of their gigantic gloom. The white lightening, not as it is drawn by less observant or less capable painters, in zigzag fortifications, but in its own dreadful irregularity of streaming fire, is brought down, not merely over the dark clouds, but through the full light of an illumined opening to the blue, which yet cannot abate the brilliancy of its white line. (Modern Painters I, Library Edition: 3.413) [The Stonehenge], also, stands in great light; but it is the Gorgon light—the sword ofChrysaor is bared against it. The cloud of judgment hangs above. The rock pillars seem to reel before its slope, pale beneath the lightning. And nearer, in the darkness, the shepherd lies dead, his flock scattered. (Modern Painters V, Library Edition: 7.190-91)


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13 February 2013