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John Ruskin (1819–1900)
"Of Modern Landscape." Vol. 3, chapter 16, sect. 39 of Modern Painters.
One leaf of the autograph manuscript comprising vols. 1–5 [1853–60]
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1906; MA 393–397
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Here Ruskin quotes a passage from Sir Walter Scott's Marmion to illustrate a point about modern attempts to seek beauty in nature: "our delight in wild scenery" is a recent development, quite different from the way nature was viewed in the Classical era, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance. He attributed this change of heart to fundamental flaws in Victorian society, the materialistic values of industrial capitalism, the grinding ugliness of suburban wastelands, and other modern miseries. In his opinion, Romantic notions of pursuing beauty in the unsullied countryside and distant past were escapist fantasies prompted by the sordid realities of daily life.

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Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.