Art for the Nation: John Ruskin, Art Education and Social Change

20–21 September 2019, 10am–5.30pm 

(Drinks reception & evening lecture on Day 1 5.30–8.30pm)

Sainsbury Wing Theatre

£45/£35 Members & Patrons/ £30 concessions (for both days, including the evening lecture on Day 1)

Join us for 'Art for the Nation: John Ruskin, Art Education and Social Change', where we will explore Ruskin’s interactions with, influence on, and legacy for the museum world and art education

2019 is the 200th anniversary of the birth of the eminent Victorian art writer and reformer John Ruskin. To mark this bicentenary and cater for the ever-increasing public interest in Ruskin, a large number of events on various themes have been planned worldwide.

The recent upsurge of interest in Ruskin has led to much fresh scholarship on his life, work, and legacy. The National Gallery’s two-day conference will capitalize on this new research and expand on it by looking specifically at Ruskin’s interactions with, influence on, and legacy for the museum world and art education, with talks structured around  four themes: ‘Art Education and Museums’; ‘British Art and Photography’, ‘Language, Writings and Sources’ and ‘Ruskin Today’.

The conference will look at the extent to which Ruskin was working alongside or outside the British art establishments as well as the contribution Ruskin made to the emerging discipline of art history, including canon formation, formal criticism and other genres such as exhibition guides. A further, crucial set of issues will address Ruskin’s ongoing legacy, including the reception of his writing about artists and curating, and art in relation to social, environmental and economic questions.  We will ask what his ideas can teach future generations of museum goers, artists, curators and funding bodies.

The conference will begin with a keynote address by Professor Dinah Birch (University of Liverpool), followed by two days of papers covering the principal themes noted above.

As an additional attraction, during the lunch breaks, there will be visits to the National Gallery Research Centre to see Ruskin-related unique archival material and tours to see paintings in the collection that Ruskin commented on.

The conference is directed towards wide audiences from academics (established and emerging) and art professionals to the general public, especially those interested in Ruskin, Italian Renaissance art, British 19th-century art, art education, and the history of museums.

'Art for the Nation: John Ruskin, Art Education and Social Change' is organised by Dr Susanna Avery-Quash (National Gallery) in partnership with Janet Barnes, a former Director of the Guild of St. George; with support from the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art.

The conference forms part of a collaboration with The Ruskin Foundation, whose London Lecture 2019, in association with Sovereign Films, will be given by Professor Robert Hewison (Chair, 'Ruskin To-Day'), at the National Gallery on the Friday evening of the conference.

Download conference programme

Image above: Detail from a portrait of John Ruskin by George Richmond. Frontispiece to 'The Works of John Ruskin', 1903–12 (Vol XVI: 'A Joy for Ever'). Photo © The National Gallery,  London