Monday, October 22, 2012

Pater, Ruskin and Botticelli

The last time we met for class Johanna (sorry if my spelling is off) remarked that there was no Ruskin  assigned for this week's class. So, I did a little bit of skimming through the always magnificent JSTOR and I came across a very interesting article which connected Ruskin and Pater. Apparently, the two had a bit of a feud concerning the rediscovery of Botticelli in the 19th Century. Both men wanted to claim credit for it! In 1883 Ruskin explicitly stated that  he alone  rediscovered Botticelli. However in August of 1870 Pater published an essay entitled, "A Fragment on Sandro Botticelli" while it was not until a year later in 1871 that Ruskin mentioned Botticelli in an Oxford lecture during the Lent term. This lecture was not published until 3yrs later in 1873. It appears that Pater clearly wins the debate here. Yet, there is a letter from Ruskin to Charles Elliot Norton dated July 1870 (a month before Pater's article) in which Ruskin devotes a single sentence to Botticelli and his general dislike of the painter.While Ruskin is typically credited with the rediscovery of Botticelli in the 19th century, it does appear that perhaps this is slightly incorrect. 

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