February 16 - April 29, 2000
Remembering John Ruskin
Curated by R. Dyke Benjamin & Peter X. Accardo
Drawing from some of the world's most significant collections of John Ruskin's first editions, manuscripts and letters, the Grolier Club of New York is working with Harvard University's Houghton Library and Ruskin collector R. Dyke Benjamin to present a joint exhibition celebrating the life of The Great Victorian. Opening on February 20, 2000, one hundred years after John Ruskin's passing, the exhibit will underscore John Ruskin's creative genius, humanity, and lasting contributions to social and cultural evolution.
Since Harvard Professor Charles Eliot Norton was Ruskin's longest standing American friend, The Houghton Library/ Benjamin Norton material will provide an important resource for this exhibit. During Ruskin's final heart-rending years in mourning for his beloved Rose La Touche, Miss Francesa Alexander soothed the aging Professor Ruskin's anguished spirit through her beautiful drawings and sensitive letters. Though a young woman living in Italy, Francesca was born in Boston. The show will illustrate the communication between Ruskin and his other close American friend.
The exhibition will feature a treasury of Ruskin materials. Included will be several Ruskin drawings, Ruskin's ink copies after George Cruikshank, and Ruskin's self portrait in pastels; Lewis Carroll's 1875 photograph of John Ruskin; Ruskin's autograph notebook containing his Greek exercises; Ruskin's and Norton's own annotated copies of Modern Painters;books from Ruskin's library including one signed by J. M. W. Turner; a notebook of Francesa Alexander's drawings; and, Charles Eliot Norton's copy of Ruskin's last will and testament.
Many of the exhibited books will be enhanced by original woodblocks for illustrations of Ruskin's books, Ruskin's letters of instruction to his publisher, manuscript materials, prints and plates. The designer of the exhibition catalogue, Jerry Kelly, will restrike selected original woodblocks and copper plates for the catalogue.
In The Gandhi memorial building in New Delhi, there are life sized paintings of Gandhi, Tolstoy, and Ruskin in a group. Just as Ruskin's thoughts influenced the lives of the great Indian leader and the Russian author, so do his thoughts resonate today. Collector Dyke Benjamin and Grolier Club member/Houghton Library Curator Peter Accardo welcome the opportunity to add The Grolier Club of New York City and The Houghton Library of Harvard University to the wordwide celebration of the continuing life of John Ruskin in the year 2000.