William Gershom Collingwood (1854–1932)

Image credit: The Ruskin Museum

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W. G. Collingwood probably met Arthur Severn at Brantwood, about 1881. Severn depicts a very smart, dapper young Collingwood, in his late twenties, possibly thirty, serious, with an intelligent expression; he appears a trifle ill at ease, as if embarrassed at having his portrait painted, and sensing that the result will be superficial, not penetrating.

Collingwood wrote the first biography of Ruskin, and the first analysis of his art criticism. He deplored the Severns’ greed and total inability to understand the international importance of Ruskin’s cultural legacy. In 1900, he organised a hugely important Ruskin exhibition in Coniston Institute; this paid for a permanent memorial – The Ruskin Museum, housing a collection of Ruskin watercolours, drawings, sketchbooks, minerals, crystals, casts and personalia, lovingly selected to illustrate Ruskin’s almost forensic examination, through detailed drawing, of the particular, before attempting any speculation on underlying general principles, and cross-relationships between fields of study.

The Ruskin Museum



William Gershom Collingwood (1854–1932)




oil on canvas


H 61 x W 51 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

gift from Miss Violet Severn, the artist's daughter, 1934

Work type



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Yewdale Road, Coniston, Cumbria LA21 8DU England

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