Voices from Venice - 4th of 4 readings from John Ruskin's writing on Venice

11th March 2022
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DETAIL FROM: John Ruskin, Loggia of the Ducal Palace, Venice. 1849-1850. New York, Metropolitan Museum, Roger Fund 1908, inv. 08.227.39


Why haven't we a Ducal Palace of our own in Sheffield?


Reading:  Passages from Letter 78 (June 1877) of Fors Clavigera, § 4-12 (LE 29:126-36) 

This talk will briefly present Fors Clavigera as a work, and then concentrate on the way Ruskin refers to Venice in his letters to the labourers of Great Britain. The reading and comment will deal with Ruskin's idea of work, starting from the provocative question he asks in the opening: "Why haven't we a Ducal Palace of our own in Sheffield?", and considering the examples he provides by contrasting old and modern Venice values.

DR EMMA SDEGNO, Companion of the Guild of St George, Consorella of the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, Professor of English at Ca’ Foscari University, Venice

Second reader: The passages will be read by GERALDINE LUDBROOK, Ca’ Foscari University, Venice.

Introduced by the Master of the Guild, Rachel Dickinson

5.30-6.30pm UK time - BOOK YOUR FREE TICKET FOR THIS ONE HOUR EVENT VIA EVENTBRITE HERE


This is the fourth of four monthly readings from Ruskin’s writings about Venice, December 2021 to March 2022, culminating in a one-day public online conference on 2 April 2022 rooted in the knowledge and passion of a group of Companions concerned about the diverse challenges facing Venice which all arguably arise from confusing ‘illth’ with ‘wealth’.

Venice is wealthy in so many ways – the diversity of its inhabitants, its architectural and artistic treasures, its gardens and its food culture, its location in the precious ecosystem of the lagoon, its strong craft traditions – yet many pressures combine to make the lives of the resident community difficult to sustain and moreover put the cultural and social heritage of Venice at risk. A new kind of thoughtful tourism (such as Ruskin himself practised) is needed – gentle, slow and sustainable.

A new kind of economic system is also needed, one that respects the fact that Venice is a living community rather than a stage set for visitors; and one that resets the damaging over-exploitation of the earth’s resources and provides for a more sustainable future for the city and the Venetian Lagoon.

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Emma Sdegno

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Geraldine Ludbrook

Met Museum Ruskin watercolour.jpg

John Ruskin, Loggia of the Ducal Palace, Venice. 1849-1850. New York, Metropolitan Museum, Roger Fund 1908, inv. 08.227.39