Jun 29 2012
Curator of the Ruskin Collection, Louise Pullen on the new exhibits going on show at the Millennium Gallery next month.
In the first week of July, the Ruskin Collection will be closed for a few days while we change the displays again. It seems like no time at all since I worked on the current displays, but to make as much of the collection as possible accessible, and in line with the conservation requirements of the works, we try to change the Ruskin displays about twice a year.
When the Ruskin space went through its major redeveloped last year, two of my prerequisites for the gallery were that the cases should be small enough that they need only one person to change them, but large enough to display some of the wonderfully illustrated books in the collection, which for a long time have not been on display.
I have been documenting the collection’s library for some months now, and Ruskin collected some real jewels for it. So amongst the books I’ve been researching for the display are a printed German bible from 1540 illustrated by Holbein, a French bible from the mid 1200s and the much prized deCroy Book of Hours, a visitor favourite which we’ll be putting back on display after a well-deserved break from being on show.
The re-vamped Ruskin Collection also provides more wall space for hanging some larger framed works. So this time round I would also like to get out some of Jon James Audubon’s massive and very impressive plates from his internationally-lauded Birds of America book. They provide an interesting comparison to Edward Lear’s parrot illustrations which he published to great acclaim whilst still a teenager. It’s fitting we showcase Lear’s work in the new displays to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the artist, author and poet’s birth this year.
Of course the Ruskin Collection isn’t the Ruskin Collection without a bit of Ruskin himself. This time round I want to display some of his architectural drawings from Venice which haven’t been shown recently either. These provide an excellent excuse to look in a bit more detail about Ruskin’s relationship to that very colourful and decorative city and look at just why Ruskin demanded that Sheffield was missing and needed a ‘Ducal Palace’. Just what did he mean by this? Find out in the Ruskin Collection from July 6.
Top: Pages from the ‘De Croy’ Book of Hours, French, late 1400s. Collection of the Guild of St George, Museums Sheffield
Bottom : Edward Lear, 'Red and Yellow Macaw (Macrocercus aracanga)': Plate from ‘Illustrations of the Family of Psittacidae, or Parrots’, 1832.