Abstract Lines. John Ruskin. 1856 or 1857. Source: Plate 21 in Hewison, John Ruskin: The Argument of the Eye, which explains that this drawing served as an “illustration to Volume l of The Stones of Venice (1851) to demonstrate that architectural ornament should be based on the abstract lines derived from natural shapes, a-b: the curve of glacier near Chamonix; d-c, e-g, i-k: curves in mountain ranges; h: a branch of spruce fir; 1-m, q-r, s-t, u-w: leaf shapes; n-o: the lip of a snail shell; p: a worm spiral. See 9.266-9. Ruskin points out that these curves demonstrate the type of Infinity, or Divine Incomprehensibility.”


Hewison, Robert. John Ruskin: The Argument of the Eye.. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976. Plate 19 in Chapter 3. [Click on image to enlarge it.]

Last modified 2 September 2014