Details from a drawing of a balcony, Venice, c.1850
Artist: John Ruskin
© Victoria and Albert Museum. Museum number D.1727-1908
Art critic John Ruskin changed the way 19th-century British architects looked at, or read, a building. In combining drawings like this with powerful, sermon-like prose, Ruskin's publications celebrated Romanesque, Byzantine and Gothic architecture for its morality and myth.
Ruskin delighted in the colour and variety of Venice. In this balcony study Ruskin analysed the work through drawing while taking notes on how the stonework was cut, carved and assembled.
Many architects followed Ruskin's example of isolating details in swift sketches of decorative elements rather than drawing the whole building. While Ruskin admired Venetian architecture for its morality, some followers simply appreciated Venice's picturesque appeal.