John Ruskin - Art, Society and Ideology

John Ruskin Quotations

A collection of John Ruskin quotes, categorised by publication and date.


Lectures on Art, 1870

"Life without industry is guilt, and industry without art is brutality."

"The secret of language is the secret of sympathy and its full charm is possible only to the gentle."


"The entire vitality of art depends upon its being either full of truth, or full of use; and that, however pleasant, wonderful, or impressive it may be in itself, it must yet be of inferior kind, and tend to deeper inferiority, unless it has clearly one of these main objects - either to state a true thing, or to adorn a serviceable one."

The Seven Lamps of Architecture, 1849

"It is the glistening and softly spoken lie; the amiable fallacy; the patriotic lie of the historian, the provident lie of the politician, the zealous lie of the partisan, the merciful lie of the friend, and the careless lie of each man to himself, that cast that black mystery over humanity, through which we thank any man who pierces, as we would thank one who dug a well in a desert."


"I do not believe that ever any building was truly great, unless it had mighty masses, vigorous and deep, of shadow mingled with its surface."


"When we build, let us think that we build for ever."


The Stones of Venice, 1853

"Remember that the most beautiful things in the world are the most useless: peacocks and lilies, for instance."


"In old times, men used their powers of painting to show the objects of faith; in later times, they used the objects of faith that they might show their powers of painting."


"Of all God's gifts to the sight of man, colour is the holiest, the most divine, the most solemn."


Modern Painters, 1843-1860

"The infinity of God is not mysterious, it is only unfathomable; not concealed, but incomprehensible; it is a clear infinity, the darkness of the pure unsearchable sea."


"There is never vulgarity in a whole truth, however commonplace. It may be unimportant or painful. It cannot be vulgar. Vulgarity is only in concealment of truth, or in affectation."


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