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The Myth of the Renaissance in Nineteenth-Century Writing$
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J. B. Bullen

Print publication date: 1994

Print ISBN-13: 9780198128885

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198128885.001.0001

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Renaissance as Fall From Grace

Renaissance as Fall From Grace

(p.123) 7 Renaissance as Fall From Grace
The Myth of the Renaissance in Nineteenth-Century Writing


Oxford University Press

The Renaissance plays a prominent role in John Ruskin’s writing, where it is closely tied to ideas of architectural style. However, Ruskin expands its significance in ways of which his contemporary architectural historians had never dreamed. In Ruskin’s The Stones of Venice, the struggle waged between the ‘Nature of Gothic’ and the ‘Nature of Renaissance’ becomes the central event in the tragic drama of the West. It is one of the most curious paradoxes of the historiography of the Renaissance that though Ruskin forced the reputation of the art and culture of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries to their lowest point ever, he simultaneously, albeit unwittingly, armed the Renaissance myth and gave it a secure position in the history of Europe. The actual word ‘renaissance’ seems to have become part of Ruskin’s vocabulary in 1846, when he went to the Continent to collect material on architecture.

Keywords:   Renaissance, John Ruskin, architecture, historiography, history, art, Europe

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