Notable Historical Trials IV – Whistler vs. Ruskin

Another chapter in the final book in the Folio Society‘s book on historical trials.  It looks like the hugely meaningful ones are pretty much done, as there’s a murder, a divorce, and a libel case coming up.  Perhaps I will be surprised, though.

This trial is a simple one.  James McNeill Whistler was a popular painter, and a jerk.  John Ruskin was an influential art critic, and a jerk as well.   When Ruskin panned Whistler’s paintings in the jerkiest way possible, Whistler decided to go for broke in the jerk sweepstakes by filing suit against Ruskin for libel.

The blow-by-blow of the trial didn’t interest me.  Talk of what pictures ‘mean’ by the artists bores me.  The defense trying to make something of how long it took to dash off the paintings bores me even more.  It does tend to show a bitter edge that tends to support Whistler’s contention of malice over pure critique.

Instead of being laughed out of court, the farce had to proceed.  Eventually, Ruskin was found guilty, but damages were set at 1 farthing.

Neither man had an easy life after this trial, and it is hard to find any sympathy for that.

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Notable Historical Trials IV – Whistler vs. Ruskin

  1. Pingback: Notable Historical Trials IV – Louis Riel | Kilobooks

  2. Pingback: Notable Historical Trials IV – Mrs. Maybrick | Kilobooks

  3. Pingback: Notable Historical Trials IV – Parnell and the O’Shea Divorce Case | Kilobooks

  4. Pingback: Notable Historical Trials IV – Oscar Wilde | Kilobooks

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s