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Val d'Arno

John Ruskin

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Book Excerpt: 
. . . a true thing, or adorn a serviceable one. The two functions of art in Italy, in this entirely liberal and virescent phase of it,—virgin art, we may call it, retaining the most literal sense of the words virga and virgo,—are to manifest the doctrines of a religion which now, for the first time, men had soul enough to understand; and to adorn edifices or dress, with which the completed politeness of daily life might be invested, its convenience completed, and its decorous and honourable pride satisfied.

65. That pride was, among the men who gave its character to the century, in honourableness of private conduct, and useful magnificence of public art. Not of private or domestic art: observe this very particularly.

"Such was the simplicity of private manners,"—(I am now quoting Sismondi, but with the fullest ratification that my knowledge enables me to give,)—"and the economy of the richest citizens, that if a city enjoyed . . . Read More