The Ponte Vecchio, Florence
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From the Collection
Ruskin first visited Florence in 1870, the same year that he established the Oxford Drawing school. He returned in 1872 with the intention of drawing the Baptistery in connection with a series of lectures on architecture that he was giving at Oxford. Ruskin believed that the Baptistery was of crucial significance for the history of Christian architecture and painting. He returned a further twice to the city in 1874 and finally again in 1882, accompanied by William Gershom Collingwood. The two stayed at the Hotel Grand Bretagne near the Ponte Vecchio and the bridge and its environs formed the subject of several sketches by the artist. During the early 1880s, Ruskin began work on a series of drawings which were to illustrate a proposed 9 volume history of Christianity. The first part, the Bible of Amienswas published in 1880 and he intended that one of the other volumes should be titled Ponte Vecchio.
The current bridge was built in 1345, following a flood, which destroyed the old bridge. There have been shops on the bridge since it was built, although from the end of the 16th century only jewellers and goldsmiths were allowed to use these.
This drawing belonged to Joan Severn, Ruskin’s cousin who married the artist Joseph Severn (1793-1879) and who nursed Ruskin in his old age at Brantwood.
From the Watercolour World