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The Stones of Venice, Volume 1

John Ruskin

Book Overview: 

The Stones of Venice is a three-volume treatise on Venetian art and architecture by English art historian John Ruskin. Intending to prove how the architecture in Venice exemplified the principles he discussed in his earlier work, The Seven Lamps of Architecture, Ruskin examined the city in detail, describing for example over eighty churches. He discusses architecture of Venice's Byzantine, Gothic and Renaissance periods, and provides a general history of the city as well. The book aroused considerable interest in Victorian Britain and beyond.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .onnected with those of protective architecture, that a few words in Chap. XIX. respecting staircases and towers, will contain all with which the reader need be troubled on the subject.



§ I. Our first business, then, is with Wall, and to find out wherein lies the true excellence of the “Wittiest Partition.” For it is rather strange that, often as we speak of a “dead” wall, and that with considerable disgust, we have not often, since Snout’s time, heard of a living one. But the common epithet of opprobrium is justly bestowed, and marks a right feeling. A wall has no business to be dead. It ought to have members in its make, and purposes in its existence, like an organized creature, and to answer its ends in a living and energetic way; and it is only when we do not choose to put any strength nor organization into it, that it offends us by its deadness. Every wall ought to be a &ldq. . . Read More

Community Reviews

The first volume of The Stones of Venice prepares the reader for an exploration of the architecture and history of Venice by giving an overview of basic architecture and the various styles and influences (Arab, Greek, Roman and Northern European) that combined most perfectly in Venice. The explanati

The unabridged version of book 1 of the Stones of Venice is rather like eating your vegetables. Useful, informative, detailed, but it’s a slow read. Hopefully worth putting in the effort here as a (long) preface to the next two books.

In the first volume in this famous trilogy, John Ruskin offers an extremely in-depth, if also extremely subjective, assessment of early Venetian architecture both individually and how it related to larger trends in Western art and architecture. With a critical approach typical of the Victorian Perio

I learned a great deal through Ruskin's method in visually taking apart a building or structure, separating beauty and power, loads and supports. The way he embraced Lombard architectural methods and traditions as well as Islamic ones in appreciating the Stones of Venice was liberating in a curious

Having only been to London and not to Venice, I guess I can only imagine part of what the volume tries to describe. At best, the volume contained exquisite prose-poem-style passages, while at not so best it took on a textbook style.

Massively and exhaustively detailed.