This highly coloured study focuses on botanical detail. The foreground is transformed into a concentrated and enclosed composition while the background and edges of the picture are covered with washes of watercolour. Ink is used over rapid pencil under-drawing to define the contours of the rocks and undergrowth, before watercolour washes and touches of bodycolour (an opaque white pigment) are added.

Ruskin highlights details by leaving areas in ‘reserve’ (allowing the whiteness of the paper to show through). This can be seen in the ferns at the centre of the picture.


  • Title: Rocks and Ferns in a Wood at Crossmount, Perthshire
  • Creator: John Ruskin
  • Date: 1847
  • Medium: Pen and ink, watercolour and bodycolour
  • Dimensions: 32.3 x 46.5
  • Artist's Dates: 1819-1900

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