John Ruskin (1819 – 1900) British social critic and writer.

John Ruskin social critic featured image
John Ruskin social critic featured image

John Ruskin (1819 – 1900) was a British social critic and writer.

His influential books The Seven Lamps of Architecture (1849) and The Stones of Venice (1851—53) show his interest in architecture, particularly the Gothic style. His writings provided the primary source of inspiration for the Arts and Crafts movement. He persuaded William Morris and other Arts and Crafts movement followers to abandon industry for aesthetic and social reasons. He despised machine-made items such as railway trains, cut glass, iron, and materials devoid of handmade ‘truth.’

He chastised the ‘fatal newness’ of veneered rosewood furniture, for example, and equated the beauty of mediaeval craftsmanship and architecture with the joy and artisanal dignity he associated with their creation. Though an ardent historicist, his ideas influenced 20th-century design; he foreshadowed some of Modernism’s fundamental tenets, particularly by arguing that the forms of things must be faithful to their construction’s nature and materials.


Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing.

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