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Film about Ruskin and ‘Effie’ provides backing for new lecture series

Art critic’s love affair with Venice and fight to help save it will be the subject of inaugural talk

“Effie”, a film written and starring the actor Emma Thompson, is due to finally be released on 3 October

John Ruskin’s love affair with Venice and a film about his unhappy marriage to Effie Gray have resulted in a new annual lecture series in London dedicated to the work and influence of the Victorian art critic, social reformer and early champion of the Pre-Raphaelites.

The Ruskin Foundation’s new lecture series is made possible by Sovereign Films, the company behind a film about the critic’s ill-matched and unconsummated marriage to Euphemia "Effie" Gray. The inaugural lecture “Ruskin and Venice”, is due to be delivered on 18 September by Anna Somers Cocks, the chief executive of The Art Newspaper, who has long campaigned to help preserve the city and is a former chairman of Venice in Peril.

Meanwhile, “Effie”, a film written and starring the actor Emma Thompson, is due to finally be released on 3 October. Delayed by legal fights over alleged copyright infringement, which Thompson won, the film focuses on the critic’s courtship and marriage to Euphemia "Effie" Gray. Ruskin and his young bride spent their honeymoon in the city: he studied its great buildings while she attracted male admirers.

The marriage was annulled after six years on the grounds on non-consummation. Gray re-married the Pre-Raphaelite artist John Everett Millais. They eventually had eight children. Ruskin went on to complete the three volumes of “The Stones of Venice” among many other books and writings.

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14 Aug 14
16:11 CET


Millais and Effie's grandson Admiral Sir William James, the model for the painting 'Bubbles', wrote a fascinating account of the affair in his book The Order of Release. As a child I remember him well in the little Scottish town of Elie where he was the Commodore of the local sailing club.

12 Aug 14
17:31 CET


That`s a beautiful still from the new film. Another Ruskin (and Sir Ken Clark /Civilisation )enthusiast is Camille Paglia. A short conceptual art film might have the two actresses talking about Femen`s beautiful 2014 version of Leonardo da Vinci`s `The Annunciation` (on their website and published in Marquise magazine). Other artists could be named by "Effie" to show there is historical continuity in rethinking what the pleasures of revolutionary painting and philosophising/conceptual art can be today . I think all the Pre-Raphaelites and their enthusiasts would love young American artist Akiane Kramarik`s art. "Frankly,my dear, even the post-Duchampianists are talking about her," said Effie, "Inna from Femen is speaking in London in October. Arthur`s new paintings are a joy to behold and then some. Did you see the look on Mr Whistler`s face?"

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