Plate VIII – Window the seven lamps of architecture pdf the Ca’ Foscari, Venice. Ruskin was one of the first critics to employ photography to aid the accuracy of his illustrations.
The Seven Lamps of Architecture is an extended essay, first published in May 1849 and written by the English art critic and theorist John Ruskin. The ‘lamps’ of the title are Ruskin’s principles of architecture, which he later enlarged upon in the three-volume The Stones of Venice.
To an extent, they codified some of the contemporary thinking behind the Gothic Revival. At the time of its publication A. Pugin and others had already advanced the ideas of the Revival and it was well under way in practice.
Ruskin offered little new to the debate, but the book helped to capture and summarise the thoughts of the movement. The Seven Lamps also proved a great popular success, and received the approval of the ecclesiologists typified by the Cambridge Camden Society, who criticised in their publication The Ecclesiologist lapses committed by modern architects in ecclesiastical commissions. English values, in particular expressed through the “English Early Decorated” Gothic as the safest choice of style.
Writing within the essentially British tradition of the associational values that inform aesthetic appreciation, Ruskin argued from a moral stance with polemic tone, that the technical innovations of architecture since the Renaissance and particularly the Industrial Revolution, had subsumed its spiritual content and sapped its vitality. He also argued that no new style was needed to redress this problem, as the appropriate styles already existed. The ‘truest’ architecture was therefore, the older Gothic of medieval cathedrals and Venice. The essay sketched out the principles which Ruskin later expounded upon in the three-volume The Stones of Venice published between 1851 and 1853.