The Nature of Gothic: A Chapter of the Stones of Venice,
John Ruskin. Kelsmcott Press, 1892.
[One of 500 copies], wood-engraved border, decorations and initials designed by William Morris, engraved bookplate of Gerda Hudson on front pastedown, original vellum with ties, yapp edges, uncut, very slightly soiled and warped, [Peterson A4], 8vo.
John Ruskin “was the leading English art critic of the Victorian era, also an art patron, draughtsman, watercolourist, a prominent social thinker and philanthropist. ” (wiki).
Further information on the series from a 2008 exhibit at UMW-VA:
"John Ruskin released each of the three volumes of The Stones of Venice over a two-year period from 1851 to 1853. The first volume, “The Foundations,” is an architectural treatise that specifies the rules of architecture. For this reason it has been compared with Alberti’s De Re Aedificatoria of 1452 because both treatises approach architecture as a combination of both construction and decoration. With the exception of the first chapter, “The Quarry,” this volume deals very little with the actual city of Venice, but rather continues Ruskin’s work in The Seven Lamps of Architecture by analyzing specific architectural details and concluding whether or not they are in accordance with the principles laid out in his previous work.
In contrast to the first volume of The Stones of Venice, the second and third volumes deal with specific structures in the city of Venice. The second volume is subtitled “The Sea Stories,” a reference to the lowest story of a Venetian building, called the sea story. This volume looks specifically at Byzantine and Gothic architecture within the city, while clearly privileging these styles above the Venetian Renaissance that he discusses in the third volume, “The Fall.” Throughout each volume, Ruskin discusses both specific buildings, such as St. Mark’s and the Ducal Palace, and the stylistic evolution of numerous architectural features, including column bases, capitals, cornices, windows, and, most notably, arches. His studies of arches provide not only an example of the types of arches found around Venice, but also a “scheme for the development of the mature Gothic style,” as his chronology of stylistic progression focused mainly on this period.”
This chapter “The Nature of Gothic”, which captured William Morris’ fancy and was published independently by Kelmscott Press, is from volume 2 of the 3-volume series. The entire chapter may be read here.