The Garden Guide

Book: Sketches and Hints on Landscape Gardening, 1795
Chapter: Criticism of Repton's before and after drawings

John Ruskin's Kataphusin pseudonym

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As examples of the power thus attained, we cannot too frequently recommend close and constant study of vignettes from J. M. W. Turner. These most exquisite morceaux are finished in water-colour, by the artist, on the scale of the engraving (so that the proportions of the light and shade are exactly the same in the copy), and are so thorougly inimitable, that the most pure and perfectly intellectual mind may test its advancement in knowledge and taste by the new beauties which, on every such advancement, will burst out upon it in these designs. But the point, to which we wish to direct particular attention, is this, that no engraving less than six inches in the greatest dimension, can, in any case, be included within defined limits; and even when they are six or seven inches across, they will hurt the eye if very dark. So that, in reducing pictures to a less size, if they fall within these limits, they must be thrown into vignettes. We should wish to see the authority of this rule more distinctly owned among engravers than it now is; for, in consequence of its violation, many exquisite engravings are utterly useless, as far as regards any pleasing effect on mind or eye. We hope, however, that if the attention of the master engravers be once directed to it, their own sense and feeling will shew them that it is no speculative and useless limitation, but an authoritative rule, whose practice is as necessary as its principles are correct.- Kataphusin. Oxford, February, 1839. J. C. L.] [Loudon's attribution for the criticism of Repton is to "Kataphusin. Oxford, February, 1839. J. C. L". Kataphusin was the pseudonym used by the later-famous British art critic John Ruskin. Ruskin was born in 1819 and John Claudius Loudon was the first editor to publish his work, in 1837 in the Architectural Magazine which Loudon edited. Later, Ruskin lectured at Oxford University as the Slade Professor of Fine Arts. Loudon described Ruskin as 'the greatest natural genius that it has ever been my fortune to become acquainted with'. It seems likely that Loudon encouraged and edited Ruskin's criticism of Repton. The considerations are (1) Loudon was Ruskin's first editor (2) Loudon had been criticising Repton's 'before and after' drawing technique since 1806 (3) Ruskin had a well-known admiration for the work of J.M.W Turner. (4) Ruskin was 20 in 1839 and Loudon was 'a man in a hurry' in poor health - TT]