On 19th March 2019, at a reception in London, the Vice-Chancellor of Lancaster University announced the purchase of the Whitehouse Ruskin Collection. This purchase has secured for the nation an unparalleled collection of the paintings and drawings, books and manuscripts, photographs and daguerreotypes of John Ruskin (1819–1900), the epoch-defining critic, artist, environmentalist and social thinker.
This year marks 200 years since the birth of John Ruskin and so the acquisition of this important collection during the bicentenary year could hardly be more timely. The Whitehouse Ruskin Collection has been purchased thanks to the generosity of many donors including The Education Trust Limited and The Whitehouse Trust, the National Heritage Memorial Fund, The Art Fund, The Bowland Charitable Trust, the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Guild of St George, the Friends of the National Libraries, the Murray Family, The Aldama Foundation, The Pilgrim Trust and the John S Cohen Foundation.
Chairman of FNL, Geordie Greig said:
“The Friends of the National Libraries is delighted to have awarded its second largest ever grant towards the acquisition by Lancaster University of this unique and pre-eminent Ruskin collection.
We are so pleased to have been able to work collaboratively with The Ruskin at the end of the campaign to help securre several grants that, with the millions already raised, enabled them to meet the target by the deadline. Such a level of support is unprecedented in FNL’s 88-year history and is a reflection of the importance of this collection and of our determination to give effective help to save it for the nation.
We thank the Aldama Foundation for their generous donation, given via FNL. We also thank the Garfield Weston Foundation whose generous donation, also given via FNL, helped the University to meet the fundraising target.
We celebrate Lancaster University’s great achievement and pay tribute to Professor Sandra Kemp, The Ruskin's Director, whose tireless work and extraordinary fundraising success made this acquisition possible."
Brought together by educationalist and Liberal MP, John Howard Whitehouse, the Whitehouse Ruskin Collection contains thousands of items and provides an unprecedented insight into the life and work of John Ruskin and his circle of highly influential associates, including Edward Burne-Jones, William Morris, John Everett Millais and William Holman Hunt. It is one of the most complete compilations of a single author’s works anywhere in the world and includes 29 volumes of diaries, 7,400 letters, 350 books from Ruskin's library, 1,500 drawings and 125 daguerrotypes (see image below).
The collection will continue to be housed in Richard MacCormack’s award-winning building at Lancaster University, and on loan at Brantwood, Ruskin’s home at Coniston. Through this acquisition, Lancaster University will own the collection, which will be central to the University’s relaunch of The Ruskin as a Museum of the Near Future.
Image above: One of the 125 daguerreotypes in the collection, dating from the mid 19th century.
Below: Housebook 2, 1849-1850. One of Ruskin's notebooks on Venetian Architecture.
Courtesy of The Ruskin Library Museum and Research Centre