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Book Review: Carrying Off the Palaces John Ruskin's Lost Daguerreotypes by K & J Jacobson

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Carrying Off the Palaces John Ruskin's Lost Daguerreotypes

by Ken and Jenny Jacobson

published by Bernard Quaritch


I have been lucky enough to get ... some most beautiful… Daguerreotypes

of the palaces I have been trying to draw ... glorious things.  

It is very nearly the same thing as carrying off the palace itself ...

- John Ruskin, K& J Jacobson Press Release


We can only begin to imagine the thrill experienced by Ken and Jenny Jacobson, dealers, collectors, and scholars of 19th century photography when in 2006 they discovered a trove of daguerreotypes at an auction in Penrith.  They had all been taken, purchased or commissioned by John Ruskin, the most important art critic of the 19th century. In a well-worn wooden box were 188 daguerreotypes of Italy, France and Switzerland, including the largest collection of daguerreotypes of Venice and likely the earliest known photographs of the Alps. 

This find has more than doubled the number of known Ruskin daguerreotypes and represents the largest collection of them in the world. For years the Jacobsons have been dedicated to undertaking the conservation of the collection and studying them. Aside from visiting museums and libraries, they have travelled extensively in Europe to determine the precise locations depicted in the views. The quality and unorthodox style of many of Ruskin's daguerreotypes will come as a major revelation to both photographic historians and Ruskin scholars.  The preface tells the story of the discovery and is followed by ten chapters concerning Ruskin’s complex relationship to photography. In addition the book includes one of only a few catalogue raisonnés published in the entire history of photography. It represents an exceptional contribution to photographic history. The hardback text contains 432 pages and 601 illustrations.


To learn more about this discovery and the work of John Ruskin, please contact K & J Jacobson Gallery



To purchase the book, please contact the Publisher, Bernard Quaritch.

Bernard Quaritch to launch the book in the USA at the AIPAD Show. 



Read more about this story in the Financial Times Visual Arts section, BBC, The Telegraph, and Daily Mail.



Image Information:  

Venice, The Grand Canal, Casa d’Oro Under Restoration

Courtesy of K & J Jacobson Gallery


Tags:  Carrying off of the Palaces John Ruskin's Lost Dag  John Ruskin  K & J Jacobson  K&J Jacobson 

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