The Royal Academy Exhibition 1855.
This is a large architectural diagram, with the outlines executed sharply in black, the upper half being then painted brick-red, and the lower green-grey. (Note the distinctness of the mannerism in the outlined statues and pillars of the chapel in shade upon the right.) I can hardly understand how any man, devoting his time to painting, ever comes to suppose that a picture can be right which is painted in two colours! or by what reasoning he persuades himself that, because seen under the red light of sunset, the purple trunk of a stone pine, the white stucco of house walls, the scarlet of tiles, and the green of foliage, may all be of the same colour! Imagine a painting of a beautiful blue-eyed female face, by sunset, which represented its blue eyes, its nose, its cheeks, and its lips, all of the same brick-red! Mr. Roberts was once in the habit of painting carefully finished cabinet pictures, which were well composed (in the common sense), and fairly executed in the details. Had he continued these, painting more and more, instead of less and less, from nature, he might by this time have been a serviceable painter. Is it altogether too late to warn him that he is fast becoming nothing more than an Academician?
[For David Roberts (1796-1864) see Vol. III. p. 223 n. Later on in these Notes (p. 35) Ruskin refers to his personal regard for the painter. In the Notes of 1859 he again contrasts Roberts's later work unfavourably with his earlier (p. 221). In the Tate Gallery, Roberts is represented by pictures painted in 1835 and 1848 respectively (Nos. 400, 401). In the Victoria and Albert (South Kensington) Museum there are several examples of his work both in oil and water-colour.]