Mr. Ruskin’s New Volume

Edward Burne-Jones

General Description

Date: 1856
Genre: Review


◦ Georgiana Burne–Jones, Memorials.

◦ Mackail, J. W. Life of William Morris .

Scholarly Commentary

Guest Editor: PC Fleming


In this essay, Burne-Jones reviews the third and latest volume of Ruskin’s Modern Painters . He examines Ruskin’s definitions of high and low art, imagination, and idealism, citing examples from Hunt and Millais.

In 1855, before the first issue of the magazine was even published, Burne-Jones was already planning this essay. He wrote to Maria Choyce that, “In the March number I shall introduce Ruskin and in the April Fouqué” (Memorials 123). The latter never materialized, but this essay on Ruskin is one of Burne-Jones’s most significant contributions.

Ruskin was highly regarded by the Morris brotherhood. His “Edinburgh Lectures” first introduced Morris and Burne-Jones to DGR and the rest of the PRB (Mackail 38), and many of Ruskin’s theories are evident in the Magazine. He was sent a copy of the first issue, and by the time this essay was printed, Burne-Jones had already received a letter from him. His excitement is evident in a letter written to Cormell Price: “I’m not Ted any longer, I’m not E. C. B. Jones now—I’ve dropped my personality—I’m a correspondent with Ruskin, and my future title is ‘the man who wrote to Ruskin and got an answer by return’” (Memorials 127).

Burne-Jones, writing about “all poetry, sung or painted” implicitly echoes the feeling so common in the writings in The Oxford and Cambridge Magazine, that the written and material arts are one and the same (see for example Fulford’s essay on Tennyson). This idea can be traced back to Ruskin himself, and Burne-Jones applies this principle to Ruskin’s prose, comparing it to Turner’s paintings and arguing that, while Ruskin’s theories are brilliant, their practical results are due perhaps as much to his rhetorical fluency as to “the undeniable truth that is in them” (215).

Printing History

First printed in The Oxford and Cambridge Magazine , April, 1856.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1