Seeing Many Beautiful Things: John Ruskin’s Travels

By Melinda Creech
Graduate Assistant, Armstrong Browning Library

John Ruskin’s extensive and privileged travel experiences began as a child. His father, a wine merchant, visited his business clients in the Lake District of England, Scotland, France, Belgium, Strasbourg, Schaffhausen, Milan, Genoa, Turin, the Alps, and Venice. Ruskin returned to many of these places throughout his lifetime to study and sketch his impressions of landscapes and buildings. These two letters record some of those experiences.

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Letter from John Ruskin to W. H. Harrison. 10 November [1851]. Page 1.

Letter from John Ruskin to W. H. Harrison. 10 November [1851]. Page 1.

Letter from John Ruskin to W. H. Harrison. 10 November [1851]. Pages 2 and 3.

Letter from John Ruskin to W. H. Harrison. 10 November [1851]. Pages 2 and 3.

Letter from John Ruskin to W. H. Harrison. 10 November [1851]. Page 4.

Letter from John Ruskin to W. H. Harrison. 10 November [1851]. Page 4.

This letter, written while the Ruskins were wintering in Venice, was addressed to Mr. W. H. Harrison. The letter thanks Mr. Harrison for his “epigram on friendship” and accepts his invitation for a meeting. The remainder of the letter discusses the restoration of a gondola. An illustration of the gondola is included in the letter. Ruskin comments that the parasol on the gondola was granted to the Doge by Pope Alexander III.

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Letter from John Ruskin to [Jane O'Meara] Simon. Page 1.

Letter from John Ruskin to [Jane O’Meara] Simon. Page 1.

Letter from John Ruskin to [Jane O'Meara] Simon. 1 March 1863. Pages 2 and 3.

Letter from John Ruskin to [Jane O’Meara ] Simon. 1 March 1863. Pages 2 and 3.

This letter, written from Mornex, Switzerland to Jane O’Meara Simon, describes in great detail his lodgings and the landscapes he views from his lodgings. Mrs. Simon was a close family friend of John Ruskin and the Severns and wife of Dr. John Simon, Ruskin’s physician. Ruskin describes the view from his lodgings in Mornex:

. . . in the morning I get a little Greek and geology done – and perhaps some drawing – none well – but yet enough to give slight [show] of progress. I live in that room you were in, chiefly. –the [day] goes all round it, and I get from corner to corner as it chases me; sitting mostly however at the window next the fireplace . . .  I can see the [Salève] slope out of the near window, and the grander [Jorasses] out of the other by turning my head . . . In the morning, I can see Mont Blanc / on my bed – and, sleeping, have the [entire] view from the [Urins] to the [Stanery] [mountains] unbroken.

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