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Selectivity, interpretation and application : the influence of John Ruskin in Canada

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Selectivity, interpretation and application : the influence of John Ruskin in Canada

Grants, Anita (2006) Selectivity, interpretation and application : the influence of John Ruskin in Canada. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

In Victorian-era English Canada John Ruskin's ideas were perhaps as well-known as they were in Britain. However, without the controlling presence of Ruskin, admirers were free to select and re-interpret his positions without fear of reproach, and in such a way that their projects would be given added credibility by association. The individuals who did this believed that their interpretation and understanding of Ruskin's writings was valid, and often those views, rather than Ruskin's were re-interpreted and expressed. He was not the agent of his influence, but was instead a source to be referred to as needed. Certainly this was not a universal circumstance in Canada, but occurred frequently enough to be significant. Beginning with an examination of the problems of defining the term "influence", the nature of Ruskin's influence in Canada from the mid-nineteenth century through the first decades of the twentieth century is presented. The influence of Ruskin's writings is analysed through a discussion of examples from the following fields: commercial, institutional, and public architecture; art education and training in Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia; and trends in painting. In terms of architecture, Ruskin's ideology was not always taken into account, especially as the north Italian style he championed became more popular. Thus, while the Canadian Houses of Parliament, University College, Toronto, Canadian Institute, and Montreal YMCA may have been relatively true to his principles, the commercial projects of Charles Wilson (Montreal), John Macdonald and Robert Carswell (Toronto) were anything but. The discussion of art education considers how Ruskin's theories were adapted to suit the needs of educators, and then readapted as their interpretations of these theories evolved. Oscar Wilde's 1884 Canadian lectures contained much unacknowledged Ruskin; Fred Brigden, who had studied at the Working Men's College, continued to call himself an art workman after his emigration to Canada; and Arthur Lismer, having been educated in a Sheffield which revered Ruskin, who from early in his career repeated many of the critic's comments and opinions, quoting at length from his writings. The study concludes by examining Ruskin's influence on artists in Canada

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Fine Arts > Art History
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Grants, Anita
Pagination:xv, 255 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:Art History
Date:2006
Thesis Supervisor(s):Foss, Brian
ID Code:9098
Deposited By:Concordia University Libraries
Deposited On:18 Aug 2011 14:44
Last Modified:18 Aug 2011 14:44
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