Façade of San Marco, Venice. J. W. Bunney (1828-1882). 1877-82. Oil on canvas. 144.7 x 226 cm. Collection of the Guild of St George, Museums Sheffield, on loan from the Guild since 1882. Accession no. CGSG00780. Currently on display at the "John Ruskin: The Power of Seeing" exhibition at Two Temple Place, London, 26 January - 22 April 2019, which kindly supplied this image for purposes of reviewing the exhibition.

Left: Exterior of the St. George's Museum, Walkley. Right: Interior of St. George's Museum, Walkley (Bunney's picture of St Mark's at the far end; Ruskin's drawing of "St Mary of the Thorn, Pisa, on the stand)." Source of illustrations (both woodcuts) and captions: Cook, facing p.xlii.

This huge canvas, which took Bunney at least six hundred mornings if not six hundred whole days to complete, was considered his "principal record" of the buildings in Venice (Cook lvi) was bought by Ruskin specifically for his collection, and played a key role in the establishment of his Guild of St George museum project.

The building in which the Museum was placed was a small stone cottage, which had to house both the curator and the specimens.... At a later date (1884) a small gallery was built out behind, as may be seen in the woodcut [on the left], as there was no room in the cottage for Mr. Bunney's large picture of St. Mark's. The interior of this gallery is shown [on the right].... It was in a tiny room in the cottage, less spacious than the afterwards-added gallery, that the Ruskin Museum was gradually collected, as recorded in successive numbers of Fors. It was a case of "much treasure in a little room," and the number of students and spectators daily increased.

Bunney's painting was considered to be a faithful transcription of the basilica, but it is not simply a specimen of painstaking draughtsmanship. It is one of the most compelling works in the "Power of Seeing" exhibition, with people crowding round to admire it (see photograph below right).

Scans, last photograph and text by Jacqueline Banerjee. You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer or source, and (2) link your document to this URL or cite the Victorian Web in a print one. [Click on all the images to enlarge them.]

Related Material


Cook, Edward Tyas. Introduction. Works of John Ruskin. Vol. 30. Eds. E. T. Cook and Alexander Cook. London: George Allen, 1907. xxi-lxxvi. Internet Archive. Contributed by University of California Libraries. Web. 7 February 2019.

Created 7 February 2019