‘Energy and Endurance’: The Architecture of Switzerland
Ruskin often wrote about his admiration for Gothic craftsmanship or buildings ornamented with coloured marble and sculptured decoration. Yet he was also fascinated at how buildings stood as markers of ‘national identity’. For him, a building also showed something of the character of the country in which it was built.
Swiss architecture was for Ruskin a particularly good example of this. Many areas were mountainous, and architecture stood either humbly or solidly within the harsh climate and awe-inspiring scenery. In the lower valleys, he described through architecture the political and religious history of the country.
Throughout his life Ruskin reminded architects that buildings were visible to everyone, always making a significant mark in their setting. The perceptible ‘energy and endurance’ of Swiss buildings fascinated Ruskin and for many years he planned to write an architectural history of Swiss towns.