'Examples of the Architecture of Venice' was a folio of plates first published in 1851 in connection with Ruskin's book on Venetian architecture, 'The Stones of Venice.' The preface to the folio explains that: ' Mr Ruskin has found it impossible to reduce to the size of an octavo volume all the sketches made to illustrate his intended Essay on Venetian architecture; at least, without loss of accuracy in detail: he has thought it better to separate some of the plates from the text, than either to throw the latter into a folio form, or diminish the fidelity of the drawings.' Ruskin selected 16 of his drawings of architectural details to be published as plates in a large format folio each accompanied by an explanatory text. This is the third plate in the folio and depicts two examples of decorative capitals. Ruskin notes that 'both are evidently founded on the antique Corinthian, but infinitely more picturesque, and worked with leaves which, instead of being pointed, are forked at the extremities; a character which I believe to be peculiar to Byzantine work.' There is another example of one of the Torcello capitals in 'Stones of Venice' but on a much smaller scale. Ruskin obviously relished the chance this folio gave him to reproduce these capitals in a large format as he noted that he 'could not [in the book illustration] give any idea of the sharp, dark, deep penetrations of the chisel into their snowy marble.'

  • Presented by the Executors of the Rt. Hon. William Kenrick, 1920
  • © Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery


Association Artist Organisation
Lithographer G Rosenthal -
Artist John Ruskin -


Type Position(s) Method Date(s) Notes
J. Ruskin./3/ TORCELLO/ Capital of Nave Pillar./ Hanhart imp./ ST. MARK'S/ Capital of Shaft of Central Porch./ G. Rosenthal lith.
Inscription below image Printed - Ink.

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