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Of Ruskinian Topography: Visible and Legible Salience in Modern Painters

Laurence Roussillon-Constanty
Cet article est une traduction de :
La topographie selon Ruskin : saillance du visible et du lisible dans Modern Painters

Résumé

As contemporary critics have shown, John Ruskin’s lifelong interest in geology not only provided him with a unique understanding of the mountain as a painting subject but also allowed him to develop an idiosyncratic theory of perception where movement and salience prevail – a theory he then applied to his often memorable prose.
At first sight, s
alience is one feature of landscape that one can easily visually apprehend but much less easily account for in prose writing. However, recent research in linguistics may offer a new model for investigations and the means to identify recurrent patterns serving to highlight the transaction from the visual to the verbal and better qualify the writer’s “word painting”. More specifically, Frédéric Landragin’s investigations on the relation between linguistic and visual salience may allow us to explore Ruskin’s prose further and see how the visual salience he noted in painting carries over in his own writing.
Applying the salience model to Ruskin’s prose might therefore prove a new way to uncover some of the more elusive and distinctive features of his writing.

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Figure 1. Aiguilles, Chamonix (Le Grépon, Aiguille de Blaitière, Aiguilles du Plan)

Figure 1. Aiguilles, Chamonix (Le Grépon, Aiguille de Blaitière, Aiguilles du Plan)

John Ruskin and Frederick Crawley. 1854. Daguerrotype. Collection: Ruskin Foundation, Ruskin Library, Lancaster University. ©Ruskin Foundation.
Source:
http://www.victorianweb.org/​painting/​ruskin/​daguerrotypes/​16.html. Web. April 20. 2016

Introduction

2As contemporary critics such as Ann Colley (Colley, 2010) have shown, John Ruskin’s lifelong interest in geology not only provided him with a unique understanding of the mountain as a painting subject but also allowed him to develop an idiosyncratic theory of perception where movement and salience prevail – a theory he then applied to his often memorable prose. How does his lifelong fascination for the mountains, and more specifically for the Alps, relate to the salient features of his prose?

3Past and important criticism1 on Ruskin has clearly identified to what extent his peculiar prose style could be described as “word painting”, a technique dating back to the ut pictura poesis tradition and often used in the course of the nineteenth century by writers wishing emulate painting2. However, as Alexandra Wettlaufer has demonstrated (Wettlaufer, 2003), many elements point to the fact that Ruskin’s rhetoric and so-called visual prose is just as verbally-oriented as it is visually-oriented. Following from her analysis of Ruskin’s writing, this essay attempts to inquire further by focusing on salience both as a distinctive feature of the mountainous landscape described by Ruskin and as a particular linguistic factor to be taken into account when analyzing his prose.

4At first sight, salience is one feature of landscape that one can easily visually apprehend but much less easily account for in prose writing. However, recent research in linguistics may offer a new model for investigations and the means to identify recurrent patterns serving to highlight the transition/ transaction from the visual to the verbal and vice versa. This article intends to look at John Ruskin’s writing on the Alps in Modern Painters in the light of Frédéric Landragin’s model of visual and linguistic salience.

  • 3 Throughout this article I shall be referring to the standard edition of Ruskin’s Collected Works in (...)

5The essay has three movements: First I examine Ruskin’s writing about the Alps in relation to his early interest for geology. How did this interest for geology develop alongside his interest for art and feed his view of landscape painting and drawing? What topographical elements does Ruskin identify as prominent or pregnant in these writings and do they conform to what may be termed visual salience? In order to answer these questions, I then turn to Landragin’s definition of visual salience and its linguistic equivalent – verbal salience. Third, in light of Landragin’s proposed model, I examine a sample of Ruskin’s writing that may qualify as linguistically salient in volume IV of Modern Painters3 dealing with mountain structure.

Ruskin’s geological writings

6In a long personal, and necessarily subjective, account of his various achievements in geology at the beginning of Deucalion, Ruskin rehearses the well-known facts of his childhood dream of becoming the President of the Geological Society, and describes his writing about art as the consequence of “grave mischance in earlier life”. As he explains in a bracketed statement the unlucky event was the gift of Rogers’ poems containing Turner’s vignettes that led him to study the painter’s art and write Modern Painters instead of pursuing a scientific career. Paradoxically, he then goes on to sum up what he sees as his true achievements in geology in relation to his writings about art. He tells his readers that they should know that:

the first sun-portrait ever taken of the Matterhorn (and as far as I know of any Swiss mountain whatever) was taken by me in the year 1849; that the outlines (drawn by measurement of angle), given in Modern Painters, of the Cervin, and aiguilles of Chamouni, are at this day demonstrable by photography as the trustworthiest then in existence; that I was the first to point out, in my lecture given in the Royal Institution, the real relation of the vertical cleavages to the stratification, in the limestone ranges belonging to the chalk formation in Savoy; and that my analysis of the structure of agates (Geological Magazine) remains, even to the present day, the only one which has the slightest claim to accuracy of distinction, or completeness of arrangement. (26:97-98)

7

Figure 2. The Matterhorn

Figure 2. The Matterhorn

Photographic reproduction of The Matterhorn by John Ruskin, 1849, original Dimensions: 26.6 cm x 37.2 cm. Public domain. Source: http://www.artinthepicture.com/​paintings/​John_Ruskin/​The-Matterhorn/​. Web. April 20. 2016

8In relation to salience what Ruskin’s claims highlight is the extent to which his early interest in geology and in the very structure of the earth consciously underpinned his aesthetic concern for the accurate delineation of mountains. Indeed, as André Hélard finely put it in his remarkable book John Ruskin et les Cathédrales de la Terre (Hélard, 2005), in Ruskin’s aesthetics, geology and art are fused together as each discipline exemplifies the writer’s concern for the organic in nature and his wish to integrate his careful analyses of stone. In Modern Painters, the young geologist’s attention to the make-up of the strata of the various alpine peaks allows him to present the reader with an original treatise in “mountainology”.

9In volume IV in particular, the representation of alpine topography allows the critic to show how both art and geology combine theory and practice in dealing with the very nature of things. Even when looking at broken grounds or precipices, Ruskin is driven by an urge to make sense of chaos and confusion and decipher the Alpine summits as so many signs to be read and interpreted. The main reference in these volumes is to Saussure’s Voyage dans les Alpes (1796-1808) but also to Alexander von Humboldt’s Kosmos (1845-1862) that advised artists to capture the essence of nature in their landscapes.

10Ruskin’s interest for geology thus allows him not only to map out the Alpine summits (through very detailed sketches of its numerous peaks) or to compare the achievement of various painters but also to uncover the most hidden layers of a given landscape. While drawing or outlining may a priori be related to space, close geological study entails probing the inner depths of the earth so as to account for particular shapes and considering time as a key element to the shaping of natural elements. The concept of “vital truth” – a key notion attached to Ruskin’s aesthetic judgement of a painted landscape thus hinges on the idea that true representation shows natural objects not only as they look in their current state but as they looked in the past and as they will come to look in the future. As Ruskin put it in his advice to students wishing to learn how to draw in The Elements of Drawing, “try always, whenever you look at a form, to see the lines in it which have had power over its past fate and will have power over its futurity” (15:91).

Figure 3. The Aiguille Blaitière

Figure 3. The Aiguille Blaitière

Drawn by Ruskin, Modern Painters IV (6:230, plate 31). Public domain.

11In the same way, in examining the Alpine peaks (and more specifically Aiguille Blaitière above), what the critic calls the “governing” or the “leading lines” are not necessarily the most visibly salient features of a landscape:

I call these the governing or leading lines, not because they are the first which strike the eye, but because like those of the grain of the wood in a tree-trunk, they rule the swell and fall and change of all the mass. In Nature or in a photograph, a careless observer will by no means be struck by them, any more than he would by the curves of the tree; and an ordinary artist would draw rather the cragginess and granulation of the surfaces, just as he would rather draw the bark and moss of the trunk (6:231- 232) [italics mine].

  • 4 Several articles by Frédéric Landragin are available online via the author’s personal webpage: http (...)

12In this particular case, Ruskin’s point is to demonstrate the superiority of Turner’s drawing of Alpine aiguilles compared to that of other landscape painters such as William Wollet but the formulation also draws attention to his understanding of the nature of visual salience. In order to better apprehend his particular view, it may be relevant here to refer to the definition of visual salience in relation to perception as described by authors engaged in designing complex computational models through the parallel between visual salience and linguistic salience. Within the scope of this article my reference will solely be to Frédéric Landragin’s insightful articles on the topic as they stem from the author’s primary interest in proposing parallel models for visual and linguistic studies.4

Visual Salience

13In their article, “Visual Salience and Perceptual Grouping in Multimodal Interactivity” (2001), Landragin, Bellalem and Romary indicate that an object is considered salient “when it attracts the user’s visual attention more than the other objects” (151). Their classification of the properties that can make an object visually salient in a particular context is summarized as follows:

  1. category (in a scene with one square and four triangles, the square is salient),

  2. functionality, luminosity (in a room with five computers, with one of them being switched on, this one is salient),

  3. physical characteristics: size, geometry, material, colour, texture, etc. (in a scene with one little triangle and four big triangles, the little one is salient, etc.),

  4. orientation, incongruity, enigmatic aspect, dynamics (object moving on the screen), etc.

14According to the authors, salience can also be due to the spatial disposition of the objects, which implies that an object is always deemed visually salient in relation to other neighbouring elements and not salient per se.

15Returning to Ruskin’s lines, we may now see that in his appreciation of landscape painting, the critic has already identified a similar distinction between salient lines (the “governing or leading lines” in the quote above) and individual salient objects. The rest of his paragraph – along with the illustrating sketch inserted in the very body of the text – further demonstrates that the governing lines of the Aiguille Blaitière are not straight but actually curved.

Figure 4. Governing line at the base of Aiguille Blaitière

Figure 4. Governing line at the base of Aiguille Blaitière

Drawn by Ruskin, Modern Painters IV (6:232, fig.37). Public domain.

16The conclusion drawn by the critic is that “as an artist increases in acuteness of perception, the facts which become [sic] outward and apparent to him are those which bear upon the growth or make of the thing” (6:232). Instead of focusing on the visually salient peaks, the artist, according to Ruskin, has to render the topography of a mountain by questioning and examining the relation between its actual contour (or outline) and its crags, points and fissures. In Ruskin’s drawing of the Aiguille Blaitière, for instance, the most salient feature is not the summit but the lines sloping to the left as they demonstrate “that the curvilinear ones are dominant, and that even the fissures or edges which appear perfectly straight have almost always some delicate sympathy with the curves” (6:233). In this instance, the lines stand out against the peaks and jut out in relation to them as separate objects.

  • 5 “For a stone, when it is examined, will be found a mountain in miniature” (6:368, §7). The initial (...)

17Throughout volume four of Modern Painters, Ruskin thus compares and contrasts idealistic with truthful landscape painting that combines attention to the geological consistency of the earth as well as careful rendering of the relation between the various parts of a composition and its whole. Building on his most famed expression that a stone is but a mountain in miniature5, the critic then endeavours to describe the changeful aspects of a stone and compare Turner’s “perfect imaginative conception of every recess and projection over the whole surface, and feels the stone as he works over it: by comparison, Claude [Lorrain’s] depiction of stones shows blank light elements” (6:373, §11).

Figure 5. Aiguille Drawing (Old ideal versus Turnerian)

Figure 5. Aiguille Drawing (Old ideal versus Turnerian)

Drawn by Ruskin, Modern Painters IV (6:237, plate 32). Public domain.

18In this instance, the comparison Ruskin draws between good and bad landscape painters is based on his knowledge of minerals, and his notion that stones are not to be mere elements contributing to the overall effect of the painting but should instead be treated as distinctive objects with a life of their own: “It is not the outline of a stone…that will make it solid or heavy; it is the interior markings, and thoroughly understood perspectives of its sides (6:368, 3:430)”.

Figure 6. Truth and Untruth of Stones

Figure 6. Truth and Untruth of Stones

Drawn by Ruskin, Modern Painters IV (6:373, plate 49). Public domain.

19Just as in the drawing of aiguilles and mountain peaks, Ruskin argues, the focus on mere outline when representing stones will prevent the viewer from grasping the salient and true nature of the foreground and understanding its relation to the overall composition. Again, the critic’s remark echoes his earlier warning in The Elements of Drawing:

a stone may be round or angular, polished or rough, cracked all over like an ill-glazed teacup, or as united and broad as the breast of Hercules. It may be as flaky as a wafer, as powdery as a field puffball; it may be knotted like a ship’s hawser, or kneaded like hammered iron, or knit like hoar-frost, or veined like a forest leaf: look at it, and don’t try to remember how anybody told you to “do a stone”(15:97).

20Here too, the classical standards of composition are rejected and the indistinctness of treatment banished in favour of detailed depiction of the actual matter of the stone. A quick analysis of the passage shows that Ruskin describes the stone as a complex figure of changing aspect (round/Angular/polished/rough), an organic element that escapes generalization – a claim he convincingly argues in his chapter on Stones in volume IV of Modern Painters through his various sketches of stones. At the same time, his own verbal description goes beyond the scope of scientific description (notice that he does not use jargon or exact terms to name the quality of the stone) and offers a variety of comparisons: from simple everyday life references to craftsmanship (ill-glazed teacup) to mythology (the breast of Hercules), the critic draws the reader’s attention to the imaginative faculty required to represent nature in its many facets.

21The stone thus pictured is not a permanent, inanimate object, but the salient sign of the past, the present and the future. It is considered as evidence that art exists in nature as much as in the artist’s hands (see the juxtaposition between “hammered iron” and “knit hoar-frost” or “veined forest leaf”). The last injunction: “look at it and don’t try to remember how anybody told you to “do a stone”” reiterates the message that close observation of the earth will best teach the artist how to depict nature, a lesson that the followers of Ruskin (such as the Pre-Raphaelites) all learnt well and remembered.

22When considered in relation to salience Ruskin’s geological writings on the Alps may thus be seen as instancing the various modalities of visual salience on two grounds; first, on an epistemological level, the critic encourages painters and readers alike to reconsider the Alps and its sublime peaks in relation to its neighbouring hills, valleys and more general topography. Second, on a metatextual level and through his own practice as a draughtsman, he actually shifts the focus from well-known panoramas or famous summits to surrounding individual elements like stones or slopes. Such a shift from visual salience proper to metatextual salience, so to speak, reveals the concurring part of both imagination and language in the making of salience. In the chapter on crests, for instance, Ruskin thus includes several figures showing the Crest of La Côte to reveal the straightness in the aqueous contours of the crest.

Figure 7. Crest of La Côte

Figure 7. Crest of La Côte

Drawn by Ruskin, Modern Painters IV (6:260, plate 36). Public domain.

23As he explains, “nothing more distinguishes good mountain-drawing, or mountain-seeing, from careless and inefficient mountain-drawing, than the observance of the marvellous parallelisms which exist among the beds of the crests (6:261).” By interspersing his text with drawings and sketches showing its soft lines, the critic is altering the visual perception of the mountain itself and ultimately operating a swift transition from the hard matter of stone to the softer feel of water.

Figure 8. Crest of La Côte, diagram

Figure 8. Crest of La Côte, diagram

Drawn by Ruskin, Modern Painters IV (6:260, fig.61). Public domain.

24The comparison he then draws between the hills and sea-waves is the most natural outcome of this switch from the visual to the verbal:

It indeed happens, not unfrequently, that in hills composed of somewhat soft rock, the aqueous contours will so prevail over the straight cleavage as to leave nothing manifest at the first glance but sweeping lines like those of waves (6:261).

25Referring to another mountain crest (Aiguille Pourri, shown below) he pursues his analysis by first refuting that visual evidence would support the comparison between the mountain outlines and sea-waves and yet further develops it:

[…] and at first there indeed seems little distinction between its contours and those of the summit of a sea wave. Yet I think also if it were a wave, we should immediately suppose the tide was running towards the right hand; and if we examined the reason for this supposition, we should perceive that along the ridge the steepest falls of crag were always on the right-hand side; indicating a tendency in them to break rather in the direction of the line a b than any other (6:261-262).

Figure 9. Junction of Aiguille Pourrie and Aiguilles Rouges

Figure 9. Junction of Aiguille Pourrie and Aiguilles Rouges

Drawn by Ruskin, Modern Painters IV (6:242, Fig.43). Public domain.

26What seems to emerge here is particularly characteristic of Ruskin’s writing method and style and an invitation to consider the “vital principle” or underlying structure of his own rhetoric – its verbal salience which is going to be the focus of the final part of my essay.

Verbal salience – Ruskin’s mountainous prose

  • 6 A good example is to be found in John Rosenberg’s seminal essay, “Style and Sensibility in Ruskin’s (...)

27In his book Dialogue homme-machine multimodal. Modélisation cognitive de la référence aux objets (2004), Frédéric Landragin reviews the various methods used in linguistics research to quantify salience in enunciation theory (mainly through algorithms) but also characterizes salience as a point of entry into a particular field as it can be applied in various ways depending on one’s approach and subject. My own perspective is not so much a linguistic one as a poetic one – as it intends to examine aspects of Ruskin’s prose in Modern Painters and qualify its features (rather than quantify them). Many critics have struggled and a few succeeded6 in describing its effect on the reader in terms of visual impact or effect.

28For instance, in her detailed analysis of Ruskin’s style, Alexandra Wettlauffer emphasizes how Ruskin allows the reader to experience what he is dealing with. As she says: “In each case reading literally becomes an act of seeing: a movement back and forth between word and image, whether on the page or in the reader’s mind (Wettlaufer, 268).” In my own analysis, I would tend to argue that in Ruskin’s prose in Modern Painters both the visual and the verbal might actually be at odds and compete for attention through various means – the most obvious one being by associating the practice of the geologist’s field notebook and that of the art critic’s Academy note. How does Alpine topography translate in his prose? Could the concept of linguistic salience help us determine recurring patterns in his style? And if so, do these recurrent salient features help construct meaning and drive the reader away from the visual realm or into yet another spatial dimension?

29Contrary to visual salience, linguistic salience is a very broad field and ongoing research in linguistics reveals classifications and hierarchies that may be at variance with one another. In his chapter on linguistic salience, Landragin himself concludes that when linguistic salience relating to formal aspects is well-established and more easily modelled, that relating to semantic ones is still being debated and inconclusive. For that reason and because Landragin’s theories apply to French rather than English my analysis will strictly look at the formal aspects of Ruskin’s writing and aim to identify some of the elements that may qualify as salient.

30The idea here is not to provide an exhaustive study of his prose but rather to suggest why and how Ruskin’s singular writing style might also be called “salient”.

31In volume IV of Modern Painters, for instance, Ruskin’s prose contains many most of the elements that allow the reader to visualise the scene. In his chapter on the materials of the mountains, the critic drives the reader to closely study the very nature of the mountain ranges by attracting his attention to the materiality of the rock and to its inner structure:

  • 7 I have highlighted in bold specific words for emphasis. The italics are Ruskin’s. We know from his (...)

And when the traveller proceeds to observe closely the materials of which these nobler ranges are composed, he finds also a complete change in their internal structure. They are no longer formed of delicate sand or dust—each particle of that dust the same as every other, and the whole mass depending for its hardness merely on their closely-cemented unity; but they are formed now of several distinct substances, visibly unlike each other; and not pressed, but crystallized into one mass,—crystallized into a unity far more perfect than that of the dusty limestone, but yet without the least mingling of their several natures with each other. Such a rock, freshly broken, has a spotty, granulated, and, in almost all instances, sparkling, appearance; it requires a much harder blow to break it than the limestone or sandstone; but, when once thoroughly shattered, it is easy to separate from each other the various substances of which it is composed, and to examine them in their individual grains or crystals; of which each variety will be found to have a different degree of hardness, a different shade of colour, a different character of form, and a different chemical composition. (6:130)7

32In the course of the description, the use of deictics (“that dust”) points to the experimental or even phenomenological aspect of his writing. The critic invites the reader to literally “step in the shoes” of the “traveller” and “observe closely” as if he/she were fully geared with hammer and blowpipe. As Ruskin’s prose expands, the initial global vision is gradually being replaced by close analysis of the very structure of the rock. Throughout the passage, the use of italics (crystallized) and repetition (“crystallized”, “crystal”, “composed”, “composition") shows the process of transformation by which the reader is meant to perceive the internal structure of the rock. Through the use of negations, the critic insists on the dichotomy between variety and difference, unity versus diversity and exposes the composite parts of the minerals. His prose style, with its frequent use of dashes and intricate syntax, thus invites the reader to actively engage with the text as much as with the materials described. As a result, we can conclude that the salient features of the landscape are being translated into words. Visual salience and linguistic salience may in this case found to coincide in the following chart:

Visual Salience

Linguistic Salience

In Ruskin’s drawings

In Ruskin’s prose

Category (shape)

Use of phonetics and particular words

Governing lines

Alliterations

Functionality

Markers of Emphasis and pauses

Dark masses

Use of dashes, italics

Physical characteristics

Syntax/ word order

Stone texture

Use of repetitions

Orientation

Grammatical form (passive form, for instance)

Angle/perspective

Use of the vocative and the passive form

Conclusion

33In chapter XVIII of the fourth volume of Modern Painters, Ruskin recalls:

Some years ago, as I was talking of the curvilinear forms in a piece of rock to one of our academicians, he said to me, in a somewhat despondent accent, “If you look for curves, you will see curves; if you look for angles, you will see angles.” The saying appeared to me an infinitely sad one (6:367).

34He then goes on to explain that the reason why these words struck him as sad is because they revealed that the speaker’s true notion was that there was in reality “no crooked and no straight” (ibid.). Ruskin not only believed in the truth of forms and in his ability to educate his reader’s eye and ear to both visualize and hear the salient features of the Alps as much as the salient components of a painting. As David Hill remarks, “for ten years between 1846 to the publication of the fourth volume of Modern Painters in 1856 the high Alps provided the ground on which he built his philosophy of geological understanding, and for ten years afterwards saw them as so vital to his being that he thought of setting up home amongst them.”8 The Alps were to him in turn a playground, a refuge and a horizon line.

  • 9 Charlotte Brontë, on Modern Painters, Vol. 1 (1843), by John Ruskin. Letter to W. S. Williams (31 J (...)
  • 10 As Sheila Emerson remarks, in a 1840 letter to Henry Acland, “Ruskin insists that he is a “grammari (...)

35Applying Landragin’s proposed model for the description of visual and verbal salience allows us to better grasp the most distinctive effect of Ruskin’s prose, which is – as Charlotte Bronte famously remarked – to make us see9. With Ruskin, we do see but we also hear and get a sense of a particular peak by learning to feel the rise and fall of the mountains in the rise and fall rhythm of a sentence so that seeing and reading become an experience in three dimensions. Many times, Ruskin uses the vocative mode and directly addresses the reader and demands his full attention as if reading his prose required the same degree of attention and the same stamina as mountaineering. Through his long sentences as much as through his “grammatical”10 drawings, what we ultimately perceive is a uniquely geopoetics – an unceasing transition or transaction from the geographical to the poetical, a crossing or passage as essential as a mountain pass that allows the traveller to cross over and contemplate a new and grander panorama.

36

Figure 10. Panorama of the Alps

Figure 10. Panorama of the Alps

John Ruskin. 1844. Source: Victorian Web < http://www.victorianweb.org/​ >. Web. April 20. 2016.

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Bibliographie

Cheung M., 2014.– “John Ruskin and the characterisation of ‘word-painting’ in the nineteenth century”, The Eighth Lamp, vol.9, February 2014, p. 62-69, visited April 21st, https://www.academia.edu/10970821/The_Eighth_Lamp_Ruskin_Studies_Today_No_9_2014

Colley A., 2010.– Victorians in the Mountains, Sinking the Sublime, London, Ashgate.

Cook E.T., Wedderburn A. (eds), 1903-1912. – The Works of John Ruskin, London, George Allen.

Emerson S., 1993.– John Ruskin: The Genius of Invention, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Hélard A., 2005. – John Ruskin et les Cathédrales de la Terre, Chamonix, éditions Guérin.

Helsinger E. K., 1982.– Ruskin and the Art of the Beholder, Cambridge, Harvard University Press.

Hewison R., 1976. – John Ruskin: The Argument of the Eye, Princeton, Princeton University Press.

Landow G. P., 1971.– The Aesthetic and Critical Theories of John Ruskin, Princeton, Princeton University Press.

Landragin F., 2004. – Dialogue homme-machine multimodal. Modélisation cognitive de la référence aux objets, Paris, Hermès-Lavoisier.

Landragin F., 2011.– « De la saillance visuelle à la saillance linguistique », in Saillance. Aspects linguistiques et communicatifs de la mise en évidence dans un texte, Annales Littéraires de l’Université de Franche-Comté, Besançon, Presses Universitaires de Franche-Comté, p. 67-84. <halshs-00658367>

Landragin F., Bellalem N., Romary L., 2001. – “Visual Salience and Perceptual Grouping in Multimodal Interactivity”, First International Workshop on Information Presentation and Natural Multimodal Dialogue, Verona, Italy, p. 151-155.

Rosenberg J., 1968.– “Style and Sensibility in Ruskin’s Prose”, in The Art of Victorian Prose, Levine G and Madden W. (eds), Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Ruskin J., 1900 [1878]. – Notes by John Ruskin on his drawings by J.M.W. Turner, R.A., exhibited at the Fine Art Society's Galleries, 1878 & 1900, London, The Fine Arts Society.

Smith M. (ed.), 1995.– The Letters of Charlotte Brontë: with a selection of Letters by Family and Friends, Volume I, Oxford, Clarendon Press.

Wettlaufer A., 2003. – In the Mind’s Eye: Visual Impulse in Diderot, Baudelaire and Ruskin, Amsterdam, Rodopi.

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Notes

1 See for instance, the following books: Helsinger, Elizabeth K. Ruskin and the Art of the Beholder. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1982. Hewison, Robert. John Ruskin: The Argument of the Eye. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976. Landow, George P. The Aesthetic and Critical Theories of John Ruskin. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1971.

2 For a recent article on word-painting, see Marjorie Cheung, “John Ruskin and the characterisation of ‘word-painting’ in the nineteenth century”, The Eighth Lamp, vol.9, February 2014, 62-69.

3 Throughout this article I shall be referring to the standard edition of Ruskin’s Collected Works in 39 volumes: The Works of John Ruskin, E.T. Cook and A. Wedderburn ed. London: George Allen, 1903-1912. In my references, the first figure refers to the volume and the second one to the page number.

4 Several articles by Frédéric Landragin are available online via the author’s personal webpage: http://fred.landragin.free.fr/.

5 “For a stone, when it is examined, will be found a mountain in miniature” (6:368, §7). The initial observation was made in Ruskin’s early essay on The Poetry of Architecture (1:48).

6 A good example is to be found in John Rosenberg’s seminal essay, “Style and Sensibility in Ruskin’s Prose”, The Art of Victorian Prose, Levine and Madden (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1968). Also see bibliography.

7 I have highlighted in bold specific words for emphasis. The italics are Ruskin’s. We know from his manuscripts that Ruskin was very careful with his use of typography and italics in particular. In the reprint in the Turner Notes (1878) Ruskin for instance added a footnote underlining his awareness of the effects of italics: “These italics and those henceforward found, are put in this reprint to mark what I now wish especially to be noticed. I would not use them in my first text, which I intended to be read as a whole, with equal attention. But the then supplementary notes are now of so much more importance to the general public than the text, that I print them in the same type.”

8 http://sublimesites.co/2014/04/04/ruskin-drawings-at-kings-college-cambridge-3-the-dent-doche-range-on-the-south-side-of-lac-leman-from-vevey-switzerland/, consulted on December 1st, 2015.

9 Charlotte Brontë, on Modern Painters, Vol. 1 (1843), by John Ruskin. Letter to W. S. Williams (31 July 1848) The Letters of Charlotte Brontë.

10 As Sheila Emerson remarks, in a 1840 letter to Henry Acland, “Ruskin insists that he is a “grammarian” of drawing” (90).

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Table des illustrations

Titre Figure 1. Aiguilles, Chamonix (Le Grépon, Aiguille de Blaitière, Aiguilles du Plan)
Légende John Ruskin and Frederick Crawley. 1854. Daguerrotype. Collection: Ruskin Foundation, Ruskin Library, Lancaster University. ©Ruskin Foundation.Source: http://www.victorianweb.org/​painting/​ruskin/​daguerrotypes/​16.html. Web. April 20. 2016
URL http://rga.revues.org/docannexe/image/3407/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 84k
Titre Figure 2. The Matterhorn
Légende Photographic reproduction of The Matterhorn by John Ruskin, 1849, original Dimensions: 26.6 cm x 37.2 cm. Public domain. Source: http://www.artinthepicture.com/​paintings/​John_Ruskin/​The-Matterhorn/​. Web. April 20. 2016
URL http://rga.revues.org/docannexe/image/3407/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 120k
Titre Figure 3. The Aiguille Blaitière
Légende Drawn by Ruskin, Modern Painters IV (6:230, plate 31). Public domain.
URL http://rga.revues.org/docannexe/image/3407/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 60k
Titre Figure 4. Governing line at the base of Aiguille Blaitière
Légende Drawn by Ruskin, Modern Painters IV (6:232, fig.37). Public domain.
URL http://rga.revues.org/docannexe/image/3407/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 24k
Titre Figure 5. Aiguille Drawing (Old ideal versus Turnerian)
Légende Drawn by Ruskin, Modern Painters IV (6:237, plate 32). Public domain.
URL http://rga.revues.org/docannexe/image/3407/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 60k
Titre Figure 6. Truth and Untruth of Stones
Légende Drawn by Ruskin, Modern Painters IV (6:373, plate 49). Public domain.
URL http://rga.revues.org/docannexe/image/3407/img-6.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 44k
Titre Figure 7. Crest of La Côte
Légende Drawn by Ruskin, Modern Painters IV (6:260, plate 36). Public domain.
URL http://rga.revues.org/docannexe/image/3407/img-7.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 84k
Titre Figure 8. Crest of La Côte, diagram
Légende Drawn by Ruskin, Modern Painters IV (6:260, fig.61). Public domain.
URL http://rga.revues.org/docannexe/image/3407/img-8.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 28k
Titre Figure 9. Junction of Aiguille Pourrie and Aiguilles Rouges
Légende Drawn by Ruskin, Modern Painters IV (6:242, Fig.43). Public domain.
URL http://rga.revues.org/docannexe/image/3407/img-9.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 64k
Titre Figure 10. Panorama of the Alps
Légende John Ruskin. 1844. Source: Victorian Web < http://www.victorianweb.org/​ >. Web. April 20. 2016.
URL http://rga.revues.org/docannexe/image/3407/img-10.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 19k
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Référence électronique

Laurence Roussillon-Constanty, « Of Ruskinian Topography: Visible and Legible Salience in Modern Painters », Journal of Alpine Research | Revue de géographie alpine [En ligne], 104-2 | 2016, mis en ligne le 18 septembre 2016, consulté le 21 février 2017. URL : http://rga.revues.org/3407

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Auteur

Laurence Roussillon-Constanty

Laurence Roussillon-ConstantyFull Professor in Literature, Aesthetics and Epistemology. Université de Pau et des Pays de l’Adour, France. Research Unit Affiliation : CAS, EA 801 (Université Toulouse 2 Jean Jaurès)/ CICADA, EA 1922 (UPPA
laurence.constanty@gmail.com

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Licence Creative Commons
La Revue de Géographie Alpine est mise à disposition selon les termes de la licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

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