John Ruskin, Study of a Dianthus, pen and brown ink heightened with white on blue laid paper from the John Gilbert Winant collection.

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A single owner collection of 45 drawings by Victorian art critic and polymath John Ruskin (1819-1900) are offered at the St James’s, London, gallery Guy Peppiatt Fine Art.

Running from April 22-May 3, the exhibition comprises 45 drawings, watercolours, pages from a notebook and a letter. Ruskin is well-known for his writings on art. Despite his deep involvement in the art world of 19th century Britain, he was an amateur artist and never sold any of the thousands of drawings or paintings he produced.


The Valley of La Grande Chartreuse, France, pen and brown ink and watercolour over pencil.

However, these pictures have a devoted following now. When the best examples appear on the open market – which they do individually and not too frequently – they can fare better than Victorian watercolours by professional artists of the era.

The collection was built up by an unnamed private collector over 30 years and includes a group of works with a noteworthy provenance. This assortment, including flower studies, landscapes and views of European towns, were part of Sotheby’s sale of Ruskin’s house, Brantwood, Coniston, in 1930. These were bought by Goodspeed’s Bookshop of Boston, Massachusetts, before being sold to US diplomat and politician John Gilbert Winant (1889-1947).


The artist’s drawing room, Herne Hill, pencil, produced when Ruskin was 14 or 15.

Winant was ambassador to Britain during the Second World War and a great admirer of the country and its culture, taking great interest in the works of Ruskin and Charles Dickens. During the War, despite the threat of bombs, he stayed in a flat in Grosvenor Square. He also had an affair with Churchill’s second daughter. He was made an Honorary Member of the Order of Merit after the war, but on his return to the US, died by his own hand. The collection passed to his son Rivington Winant and was sold from the estate in 2013.

The collection as a whole ranges from topographical landscapes to townscapes to finished watercolours prepared for engraving. His love of travel and a particular interest in Alpine landscapes is evident in many of the works.


The Matterhorn from the north-east, Switzerland, watercolour over pencil, signed with initials and inscribed lower centre: State of snow on Matterhorn in 1849…

It ranges from the 1830s when Ruskin was a teenager, to his loose drawings of the 1870s. Prices range from £800-65,000.