Spiral Relief, North Transept Door, Rouen Cathedral

John Ruskin1882

The Ruskin

The Ruskin
Lancaster, United Kingdom

Of all aspects of medieval architecture, Ruskin delighted most in what he termed the Gothic workman’s “peculiar fondness for the forms of Vegetation.” This he found both in Venice and in Northern Gothic, and even noted in Roman buildings such as the Arch at Orange, which had a “writhing roll of flowing leafage” similar to that on the portals of Rouen Cathedral.

In 1880, Ruskin was pleased to find “my old favourite porch and pinnacle bit at Rouen, all safe.” (Diary, 29 September) This was on the outer door of the cathedral’s north transept, which he regarded, along with the south door of the Duomo at Florence, as one of “the two most beautiful pieces of Gothic work in the world …both in the thirteenth century covered with sculpture as closely as a fretted morning sky with sands of cloud.” He had details cast in plaster for his museum at Sheffield, and commissioned Arthur Burgess to photograph the doorway. The date on this drawing may signify, unusually for Ruskin, completion of a study from the cast or photograph.


  • Title: Spiral Relief, North Transept Door, Rouen Cathedral
  • Creator: John Ruskin (1819-1900)
  • Date Created: 1882
  • Location Created: Rouen, France
  • Physical Dimensions: 21.5 x 17.5 cm
  • Rights: ©Ruskin Foundation, (Ruskin Library, Lancaster University) RF 1197
  • External Link: Ruskin Library, Lancaster University, Online Catalogue
  • Medium: Sepia and white on cream card

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more

Flash this QR Code to get the app
Google apps