While Ruskin's personal eccentricities and intellectual foibles are well known, the influence exerted by Modern Painters, The Seven Lamps of Architecture, and The Stones of Venice was in no small part a result of a kind of practicality and reasonableness not generally associated with Ruskin. He began writing at a fortunate time-seventy years of effort by the Royal Academy, seconded by the formation of other societies of British artists and the founding of the Dulwich Gallery and the National Gallery, had prepared a public eager for instruction about the values of art. This kind of instruction had not been available: Ruskin spoke to a public happy to be shown both the links between aesthetic, moral, and religious values and how to judge merit in painting and architecture. Although Ruskin could be acerbic about Royal Academicians, the volumes that appeared in the first two decades of his writing career were effective in no small part because they were modifications rather than repudiations of the principles that, thanks to the Royal Academy, had become cultural commonplaces. He was thus able to alter accepted perspectives sufficiently to justify art as a mode of expressing appreciation for God's creation, to shift the concept of the grand style away from an exclusive dedication to historical painting, to focus serious attention on landscape painting (in which British artists were more successful than in historical painting and which the British public more fully appreciated), and to give both moral and practical reasons for the Gothic architecture that was already returning to favor.
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