The Works of Francis Bacon, Vols. 1-10

C & R Baldwin, London, 1803
Ruskin on Bacon

In The Elements of Drawing (1857), Ruskin explained that he had 'never known anyone with false taste in books, and true taste in pictures' (Works, 15, p. 26).

With this principle in mind, he recommended the study of Bacon as part of an artist's general literary education:

'Of reflective prose, read chiefly Bacon, Johnson, and Helps' (Works, 15, 227).

In Modern Painters III (1856), Ruskin related Bacon's study of the 'material nature' to Turner's concern with the same subject in art:

'Turner, the first great landscape-painter, must take a place in the history of nations corresponding in art accurately to that of Bacon in philosophy; -- Bacon having first opened the study of the laws of material nature, when, formerly, men had thought only of the laws of human mind; and Turner having first opened the study of the aspect of material nature, when, before, men had thought only of the aspect of the human form' (Works, 5, p. 353).

Ruskin offers a less flattering characterization of Bacon in Modern Painters V (1860):

'born in York House, Strand, of courtly parents, educated in court atmosphere, and replying, almost as soon as he could speak, to the queen asking how old he was -- "Two years younger than your Majesty's happy reign!" -- has the world's meanness and cunning engrafted into his intellect, and remains smooth, serene, unenthusiastic, and in some degree base, even with all his sincere devotion and universal wisdom, bearing to the end of life, the likeness of a marble palace, in the street of a great city, fairly furnished within, and bright in wall and battlement, yet noisome in places about the foundations' (Works, 6, 439).

Museum Library

The Museum had an extensive library. Its non-manuscript collections divide into these subject areas:


I. Early Voyages of Discovery
II. Ancient Atlases


I. Mineralogy
II. Botany
III. Zoology


I. Arts of Ancient Greece and Rome
(a) Sculpture
(b) Coins and Gems


The Plastic Arts
III. Metal Work

IV. Early Drawings, and Engravings
(a) The Early Italian and German Master
(b) Recent English Engravings
(c) Recent English Drawings
(d) Black and White Drawings


I. Greek-English Translations of Homer
II. French
III. English



I. Works Appertaining to the History of Art
II. Biographical Works
III. Miscellaneous Works

Museum Book Shelves

The Museum's book shelves were vividly described in an article published in the Magazine of Art in 1879:

'On the shelves we recognise Bacon, and salute Chaucer. We bow to Dr. Johnson, and recognise Pope. Here, is "John Guillim's Heritorie," and Richard Hakluyt's "Voyages;" A. J. and E. Le Blunt's "Histoire de la Porcelaine," and Joseph Marryatt's "History of Pottery," together with several volumes of "Natural History." Our attention is now drawn to a splendid edition of books bound in brave green morocco. They are a complete set of the works of Mr. Ruskin's comrade, Thomas Carlyle [...] There are drawerfuls of Mr. Ruskin's own writings. There is a covetable collection of his standard books, an édition de luxe, bound in blue. The edition is a model of typographical excellence; it is a positive luxury to peruse such type, and revel in such paper. [...] Here are pamphlets without end.' (III, December, 1879, pp. 57-60 (p. 60))

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