In August of 1848, John Ruskin and his new bride visited northern France, for the gifted young critic wished to write a work that would examine the essence of Gothic architecture. By the following April, the book was finished. Titled The Seven Lamps of Architecture, it was far more than a treatise on the Gothic style; instead, it elaborated Ruskin’s deepest convictions of the nature and role of architecture and its aesthetics. The book was published to immediate acclaim and has since become an acknowledged classic.
The “seven lamps” are Sacrifice, Truth, Power, Beauty, Life, Memory, and Obedience. In delineating the relationship of these terms to architecture, Ruskin distinguishes between architecture and mere building. Architecture is an exalting discipline that must dignify and ennoble public life. It must preserve the purity of the materials it uses; and it must serve as a source of power and renewal for the society that produces it. The author expounds these and many other ideas with exceptional passion and knowledge, expressed in a masterly prose style.
Today, Ruskin’s timeless observations are as relevant as they were in Victorian times, making The Seven Lamps of Architecture required reading for architects, students, and other lovers of architecture, who will find in these pages a thoughtful and inspiring approach to one of man’s noblest endeavors.
This authoritative edition includes excellent reproductions of the 14 original plates of Ruskin’s superb drawings of architectural details from such structures as the Doge’s Palace in Venice, Giotto’s Campanile in Florence, and the Cathedral of Rouen.