Monday, May 26, 2014

Coniston Water


During our trip to the Lake District last week we stayed in Coniston and went to visit Ruskin's old home at Brantwood (above).  There was much of interest there, although Mrs Plinius expressed some disappointment that the decor, objects and furniture were not more beautiful.  Ruskin, it seems, cared little for interior decoration.  In the 1883 Preface to Modern Painters he wrote that he had often been asked 'by the ├Žsthetic cliques of London' (maybe that's people like us) why
'in the pictures they have seen of my home, there is no attempt whatever to secure harmonies of colour, or form, in furniture. My answer is, that I am entirely independent for daily happiness upon the sensual qualities of form or colour; that, when I want them, I take them either from the sky or the fields, not from my walls, which might be either whitewashed, or painted like a harlequin’s jacket, for aught I care; but that the slightest incident which interrupts the harmony of feeling and association in a landscape, destroys it all to me, poisoning the entire faculty of contemplation. From my dining-room, I am happy in the view of the lower reach of Coniston Water, not because it is particularly beautiful, but because it is entirely pastoral and pure. Were a single point of chimney of the Barrow iron-works to show itself over the green ridge of the hill, I should never care to look at it more.'
Happily, as you can see in the photograph I took below from The Coniston Steam Yacht Gondola, the view from Brantwood is still 'pastoral and pure'.  There was even a cow posing obligingly for me at the edge of the lake.

2 comments:

Alison Hobbs said...

There was a very worthwhile exhibition of drawings and paintings at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa this springtime, entitled "John Ruskin: Artist and Observer" http://www.gallery.ca/en/see/exhibitions/current/details/john-ruskin-artist-and-observer-6859

Plinius said...

Thanks - yes this looked good and it is coming to Scotland this summer - see my earlier post on Ruskin.