104+ Best John Ruskin Quotes: Exclusive Selection

John Ruskin was the leading English art critic of the Victorian era, as well as an art patron, draughtsman, watercolourist, philosopher, prominent social thinker and philanthropist. He wrote on subjects as varied as geology, architecture, myth, ornithology, literature, education, botany and political economy. Profoundly inspirational John Ruskin quotes will challenge the way you think, change the way you live and transform your whole life.

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Famous John Ruskin Quotes

No architecture is so haughty as that which is simple. — John Ruskin

Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you. — John Ruskin

Life being very short, and the quiet hours of it few, we ought to waste none of them in reading valueless books. — John Ruskin

Nothing can be beautiful which is not true. — John Ruskin

Let every dawn be to you as the beginning of life, and every setting sun be to you as its close. — John Ruskin

Give a little love to a child, and you get a great deal back. — John Ruskin

Do not think of your faults, still less of other’s faults; look for what is good and strong, and try to imitate it. Your faults will drop off, like dead leaves, when their time comes. — John Ruskin

All great and beautiful work has come of first gazing without shrinking into the darkness. — John Ruskin

The principle of all successful effort is to try to do not what is absolutely the best, but what is easily within our power, and suited for our temperament and condition. — John Ruskin

Large fortunes are all founded either on the occupation of land, or lending or the taxation of labor. — John Ruskin

I believe the first test of a truly great man is in his humility. — John Ruskin

It seems a fantastic paradox, but it is nevertheless a most important truth, that no architecture can be truly noble which is not imperfect. — John Ruskin

It is in this power of saying everything, and yet saying nothing too plainly, that the perfection of art consists. — John Ruskin

Natural abilities can almost compensate for the want of every kind of cultivation, but no cultivation of the mind can make up for the want of natural abilities. — John Ruskin

An architect should live as little in cities as a painter. Send him to our hills, and let him study there what nature understands by a buttress, and what by a dome. — John Ruskin

Books are divided into two classes, the books of the hour and the books of all time. — John Ruskin

When we build, let us think that we build for ever. — John Ruskin

There is no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather. — John Ruskin

The purest and most thoughtful minds are those which love colour the most. — John Ruskin

A great thing can only be done by a great person; and they do it without effort. — John Ruskin

Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of intelligent effort. — John Ruskin

Let us reform our schools, and we shall find little reform needed in our prisons. — John Ruskin

Taste is the only morality. Tell me what you like and I’ll tell you what you are. — John Ruskin

Men don’t and can’t live by exchanging articles, but by producing them. They don’t live by trade, but by work. Give up that foolish and vain title of Trades Unions; and take that of laborers Unions. — John Ruskin

Men were not intended to work with the accuracy of tools, to be precise and perfect in all their actions. — John Ruskin

One who does not know when to die, does not know how to live. — John Ruskin

A book worth reading is worth buying. — John Ruskin

The sky is the part of creation in which nature has done for the sake of pleasing man. — John Ruskin

Civilization is the making of civil persons. — John Ruskin

To know anything well involves a profound sensation of ignorance. — John Ruskin

We require from buildings two kinds of goodness: first, the doing their practical duty well: then that they be graceful and pleasing in doing it. — John Ruskin

Skill is the unified force of experience, intellect and passion in their operation. — John Ruskin

The strength and power of a country depends absolutely on the quantity of good men and women in it. — John Ruskin

Some slaves are scoured to their work by whips, others by their restlessness and ambition. — John Ruskin

The greatest thing a human soul ever does in this world… to see clearly is poetry, prophecy and religion all in one. — John Ruskin

An unimaginative person can neither be reverent or kind. — John Ruskin

Endurance is nobler than strength, and patience than beauty. — John Ruskin

Modern education has devoted itself to the teaching of impudence, and then we complain that we can no longer control our mobs. — John Ruskin

All books are divisible into two classes, the books of the hour, and the books of all time. — John Ruskin

What do we, as a nation, care about books? How much do you think we spend altogether on our libraries, public or private, as compared with what we spend on our horses? — John Ruskin

The work of science is to substitute facts for appearances, and demonstrations for impressions. — John Ruskin

Remember that the most beautiful things in the world are the most useless; peacocks and lilies for instance. — John Ruskin

All great art is the work of the whole living creature, body and soul, and chiefly of the soul. — John Ruskin

When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece. — John Ruskin

Every increased possession loads us with a new weariness. — John Ruskin

The first condition of education is being able to put someone to wholesome and meaningful work. — John Ruskin

I have not written in vain if I have heretofore done anything towards diminishing the reputation of the Renaissance landscape painting. — John Ruskin

Music when healthy, is the teacher of perfect order, and when depraved, the teacher of perfect disorder. — John Ruskin

There are no such things as Flowers there are only gladdened Leaves. — John Ruskin

Imaginary evils soon become real one by indulging our reflections on them. — John Ruskin

It is not how much one makes but to what purpose one spends. — John Ruskin

The first test of a truly great man is his humility. By humility I don’t mean doubt of his powers or hesitation in speaking his opinion, but merely an understanding of the relationship of what he can say and what he can do. — John Ruskin

Not only is there but one way of doing things rightly, but there is only one way of seeing them, and that is, seeing the whole of them. — John Ruskin

The child who desires education will be bettered by it; the child who dislikes it disgraced. — John Ruskin

It is impossible, as impossible as to raise the dead, to restore anything that has ever been great or beautiful in architecture. That which I have insisted upon as the life of the whole, that spirit which is given only by the hand and eye of the workman, can never be recalled. — John Ruskin

You may either win your peace or buy it: win it, by resistance to evil; buy it, by compromise with evil. — John Ruskin

How long most people would look at the best book before they would give the price of a large turbot for it? — John Ruskin

Modern travelling is not travelling at all; it is merely being sent to a place, and very little different from becoming a parcel. — John Ruskin

Every great person is always being helped by everybody; for their gift is to get good out of all things and all persons. — John Ruskin

A little thought and a little kindness are often worth more than a great deal of money. — John Ruskin

In general, pride is at the bottom of all great mistakes. — John Ruskin

Tell me what you like and I’ll tell you what you are. — John Ruskin

Beauty deprived of its proper foils and adjuncts ceases to be enjoyed as beauty, just as light deprived of all shadows ceases to be enjoyed as light. — John Ruskin

To give alms is nothing unless you give thought also. — John Ruskin

In order that people may be happy in their work, these three things are needed: They must be fit for it. They must not do too much of it. And they must have a sense of success in it. — John Ruskin

Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather. — John Ruskin

He is the greatest artist who has embodied, in the sum of his works, the greatest number of the greatest ideas. — John Ruskin

To make your children capable of honesty is the beginning of education. — John Ruskin

To see clearly is poetry, prophecy and religion all in one. — John Ruskin

No good is ever done to society by the pictorial representation of its diseases. — John Ruskin

He that would be angry and sin not, must not be angry with anything but sin. — John Ruskin

That country is the richest which nourishes the greatest number of noble and happy human beings. — John Ruskin

Education is the leading of human souls to what is best, and making what is best out of them. — John Ruskin

Whereas it has long been known and declared that the poor have no right to the property of the rich, I wish it also to be known and declared that the rich have no right to the property of the poor. — John Ruskin

It is written on the arched sky; it looks out from every star. It is the poetry of Nature; it is that which uplifts the spirit within us. — John Ruskin

Great nations write their autobiographies in three manuscripts – the book of their deeds, the book of their words and the book of their art. — John Ruskin

No person who is well bred, kind and modest is ever offensively plain; all real deformity means want for manners or of heart. — John Ruskin

Nearly all the powerful people of this age are unbelievers, the best of them in doubt and misery, the most in plodding hesitation, doing as well as they can, what practical work lies at hand. — John Ruskin

When a man is wrapped up in himself, he makes a pretty small package. — John Ruskin

The higher a man stands, the more the word vulgar becomes unintelligible to him. — John Ruskin

Whether for life or death, do your own work well. — John Ruskin

It is his restraint that is honorable to a person, not their liberty. — John Ruskin

Cursing is invoking the assistance of a spirit to help you inflict suffering. Swearing on the other hand, is invoking, only the witness of a spirit to an statement you wish to make. — John Ruskin

No human being, however great, or powerful, was ever so free as a fish. — John Ruskin

All that we call ideal in Greek or any other art, because to us it is false and visionary, was, to the makers of it, true and existent. — John Ruskin

No art can be noble which is incapable of expressing thought, and no art is capable of expressing thought which does not change. — John Ruskin

The highest reward for a person’s toil is not what they get for it, but what they become by it. — John Ruskin

Punishment is the last and the least effective instrument in the hands of the legislator for the prevention of crime. — John Ruskin

Mountains are the beginning and the end of all natural scenery. — John Ruskin

Man’s only true happiness is to live in hope of something to be won by him. Reverence something to be worshipped by him, and love something to be cherished by him, forever. — John Ruskin

The distinguishing sign of slavery is to have a price, and to be bought for it. — John Ruskin

Men cannot not live by exchanging articles, but producing them. They live by work not trade. — John Ruskin

Better the rudest work that tells a story or records a fact, than the richest without meaning. — John Ruskin

Doing is the great thing, for if people resolutely do what is right, they come in time to like doing it. — John Ruskin

I believe the right question to ask, respecting all ornament, is simply this; was it done with enjoyment, was the carver happy while he was about it? — John Ruskin

You might sooner get lightning out of incense smoke than true action or passion out of your modern English religion. — John Ruskin

There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man’s lawful prey. — John Ruskin

Fine art is that in which the hand, the head, and the heart of man go together. — John Ruskin

It is far more difficult to be simple than to be complicated; far more difficult to sacrifice skill and easy execution in the proper place, than to expand both indiscriminately. — John Ruskin

Nothing is ever done beautifully which is done in rivalship: or nobly, which is done in pride. — John Ruskin

No lying knight or lying priest ever prospered in any age, but especially not in the dark ones. Men prospered then only in following an openly declared purpose, and preaching candidly beloved and trusted creeds. — John Ruskin

A thing is worth what it can do for you, not what you choose to pay for it. — John Ruskin

There is no wealth but life. — John Ruskin

Art is not a study of positive reality, it is the seeking for ideal truth. — John Ruskin