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Head of the Virgin

Photo credit: Ruskin Library and Research Centre for Culture, Landscape and the Environment, Lancaster University

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Joseph Severn was the father-in-law of Ruskin’s cousin Joan Agnew, who married Arthur Severn in 1871. He spent most of his life in Rome, where Ruskin first met him as a young man in 1840; a moderately successful painter, he supplemented his income by making this kind of copy for collectors and wealthy tourists. This is the focal point of Titian’s most famous painting in Venice, 'The Assumption of the Virgin' (1516–1518). Painted as an altarpiece for the Church of the Frari, for a century from 1818 it was displayed in the Accademia picture gallery (where both Severn and Ruskin saw it).

Ruskin Library and Research Centre, Lancaster University



oil on canvas


H 58.5 x W 45 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

part of the Whitehouse Collection

Work type



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Ruskin Library and Research Centre, Lancaster University

Lancaster University, Lancaster, Lancashire LA1 4YH England

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