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  • Ruskin's shells

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As Conchas de Ruskin

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Translated title of the contributionJohn Ruskin's Shells
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>8/12/2020
<mark>Journal</mark>Revista Eletrônica de Arquitetura
Number of pages9
Pages (from-to)102-110
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>Portuguese


John Ruskin (1819–1900) assembled an impressive collection of shells over the course of his life. During his final years he displayed some of the fruits of his labours at Brantwood, his home overlooking Coniston Water in the northwest of England. Ruskin valued these shells for their beauty. He put them in a glass cabinet alongside geological specimens, historical artefacts and works of art. But Ruskin’s interest in his shell collection was not just superficial. In this essay, I ponder the deeper meaning Ruskin discovered in the shells he collected, both marine and terrestrial, and I suggest how his shell studies reflect principles developed in his writings on art and architecture, as well as his attitude towards the natural sciences. In order to stake an approach to these issues, I begin this essay by considering the remarks of other writers who have commented on the beauty and curiosity of shells. I then proceed to contrast these aesthetic appreciations with Ruskin’s more ethically informed contemplations.