Ruskin on Venice "The Paradise of Cities" Robert Hewison

Publication date:
14 Jan 2010
Yale University Press
500 pages: 254 x 190mm
105 b-w + 25 color illus.
Sales territories:


Venice represented John Ruskin’s ideal of civic society—“The Paradise of Cities,” where culture, government, and faith existed in creative harmony. In this elegant and compelling book, Robert Hewison traces Ruskin’s long and intricate relationship with the city. He shows how Ruskin shed his earlier Romantic vision of the city and developed a harder, clearer conception of neglected Gothic Venice through an intense study of the city's physical fabric that would change the international understanding of the city.

Drawing on the rich resources of Ruskin’s drawings, architectural notebooks, and manuscripts (including previously unpublished daguerreotypes from Ruskin’s own collection), Hewison offers fresh insights into both Ruskin and nineteenth-century Venice and reveals how Ruskin’s work and his connection with the city from youth to old age have helped to shape the image of the Venice we know today.

Robert Hewison is Professor of Cultural Policy and Leadership Studies at the City University, London, and Associate at the think tank Demos.

‘This book charts in fascinating detail the story of his obsession with the city and the debt it owes him.’ -Country Life

“The book is a magnificent achievement. A life’s learning finds convincing form across its stylish, readable, and challenging pages…..In it’s penetrating detail, and controlled sweep, Ruskin on Venice makes these positions comprehensible without ever making them seem inevitable.”—Marcus Waithe, The Eighth Lamp – Ruskin Studies Today

“Robert Hewison’s absorbing book gives detailed accounts of the circumstances and outcome of each of Ruskin’s visits to Venice…However Ruskin on Venice offers much more than a series of glimpses of its subject at different stages of his life: by linking Ruskin’s various stays in Venice together into a larger evolution of thought, it provides an unfolding drama of his myriad preoccupations and ever-fluctuating state of mind... The importance of Ruskin’s role as guardian of the fabric of a city which he loved but where he suffered great distress is today recognised, both in Italy and abroad. Robert Hewison’s book makes a vast further contribution to that awareness.” —Christopher Newall, Apollo