John Ruskin's art criticism inspired Victorian painters to look at medieval culture with new interest. The architecture and art collections of Florence were frequently cited in his books, especially 'Modern Painters' of 1846.From the mid-1840s onwards, Ruskin made many drawings using pen and ink with a monochrome ink wash. Most drawing masters recommended this as a preliminary method for practice in handling light and shade, before attempting full watercolour. Ruskin was also to promote its use in his 1857 book 'The Elements of Drawings'.This work is more than a study. It is an exercise in tonal contrasts, animated by lively and accurate pen drawing, expressing the kind of fidelity to nature which was to be a motivation to the Pre-Raphaelites. Although previously known as 'View of Hills from Florence, with S. Felice below' and 'View near Florence,' it was identified as the 'View from San Miniato, Florence' by Jeanne Clegg and Paul Tucker ('Ruskin and Tuscany', exh. cat., p. 38). The scene shows the mid-nineteenth century view from the steps of the church of San Miato, looking north (away from San Felice and towards Monte Acuto). In the mid-1850s the church was restored and the surrounding hillside converted into a cemetary, thus obliterating Ruskin's viewpoint.

  • Presented by an anonymous donor, 1907.
  • © Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery


Association Artist Organisation
Artist John Ruskin -


Catalogue No. Venue Date(s)
Three Centuries of British Watercolours and Drawings
163 Arts Council, London 1951 - 1951
Ruskin Watercolours and Drawings
18 Arts Council Touring Exhibition 1954 - 1954
Some Pre-Raphaelite Paintings and Drawings
61 National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth 1955-07 - -
61 Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea - - 1955-10
Rhodes Centenary Exhibition
248 Rhodes Centenary Gallery, Zimbabwe 1957 - 1957
English Eye II
32 Midland Federation Travelling Exhibition 1958 - 1958
Victorian Painting
124 National Gallery of Canada, Ottowa 1965 - 1965
Peintures et Aquarelles Anglaises 1700-1900 du Musée de Birmingham
106 Musée de Lyon 1966-10-23 - 1966-11-20
British Royal Family Exhibition
135 Seibu Department Store, Tokyo 1967-10-06 - 1967-10-18
English Artists in Italy
155 Victoria and Albert Museum, London 1968 - 1968
British Watercolours 1760-1930 from Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery
51 Arts Council Touring Exhibition 1980 - 1981
The Imagined Cities: An Italian Journey
- Palazzo della Triennale, Milan 1987-01-24 - 1987-05-17
British Watercolours from Birmingham: 150 Outstanding Works from the Permanent Collection of Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
93 Tokyo Station Gallery 1991-06-01 - 1991-07-07
93 Museum of Fine Arts, Gifu 1991-07-12 - 1991-08-18
93 Daimaru Museum, Umeda (Osaka) 1991-08-21 - 1991-09-02
93 Yamanashi Prefectural Museum of Art, Kofu 1991-09-07 - 1991-10-20
93 Bankside Gallery, London (Royal Watercolour Society) 1991-01-22 - 1992-03-01
93 Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery 1992 - 1992
Ruskin and Tuscany
38 Accademia Italiano, London 1993-01-08 - 1993-02-07
38 Ruskin Gallery, Sheffield 1993-02-20 - 1993-04-10
38 Fondazione Ragghianti, Lucca 1993-05-01 - 1993-06-12
Paesaggi di Artisti Britannici in Italia: Acquerelli del XVIII e XIX secolo della Collectione dei Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery
- Galleria d'Arte Moderna, Villa Reale, Milan 1999-05-20 - 1999-06-20


Author(s) Date(s) Publisher Pages
Works of Ruskin, XXXVIII, Catalogue of Drawings
Alexander Wedderburn, E T Cook 1912 George Allen, London p. 252, no. 723
Catalogue of the Permanent Collection
1930 Birmingham p. 180
English Drawings: An Anthology
M T Ritchie 1937 London p. 74
Fran Evans December 1957 - vol. 66, p. 145, fig. XX
British Watercolours 1760-1930
1980 Arts Council, London p. 43; repr. p. 43
Le città immaginate - un viaggio in Italia: Nove progetti per nove città
1987 Milan repr. p. 46
British Watercolours from Birmingham: 150 Outstanding Works from the Permanent Collection of Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
1992 Bankside Gallery, London (Royal Watercolour Society) and Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery pp. 212-213; repr. p. 123
Ruskin and Tuscany
Jeanne Clegg, Paul Tucker 1993 Ruskin Gallery (Collection of the Guild of St George), Sheffield and Lund Humphries, London p. 142-144; repr. 143
The Dominion of Daedalus: Papers from the Ruskin Workshop held in Pisa and Lucca, 13-14 May 1993
Paul Tucker 1994 The Guild of St George, St Alban's p. 30, pl. 9

Associated places

Name Type
Florence, Italy Depicted

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