Rose La Touche  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Rose La Touche (1848-1875) was the major love in the life of John Ruskin.

Ruskin met Rose when she was ten years old, and fell in love with her when she was eleven. She was a high-spirited child, yet also deeply religious almost to the point of mania. Ruskin's first impression of her was that she... "walked like a little white statue through the twilight woods, talking solemnly". Her pet name for him was "St. Crumpet". Ruskin proposed marriage to her at seventeen. He was then fifty. Rose did not refuse, but her pious County Kildare Evangelical Protestant parents opposed the marriage, regarding Ruskin as a socialist and an atheist. They were also concerned because of the failure of Ruskin's first marriage to Effie Gray, which had ended with an annulment on the grounds of his "incurable impotency", a diagnosis Ruskin later disputed.

The author George MacDonald served as a go-between for Ruskin and Rose, and was their closest friend and advisor. Ruskin repeated his marriage proposal after Rose became legally free to decide for herself, but she still refused to commit to marriage because of religious differences.

Rose died in a Dublin nursing home in 1875 at age 27, where she had been placed by her parents. Various authors describe the death as arising either from madness, anorexia, a broken heart, religious mania or hysteria — or a combination of these. Whatever the cause, her death was tragic and it is generally credited with causing the onset of bouts of insanity in Ruskin from around 1877. He convinced himself that the Renaissance painter Vittore Carpaccio had included portraits of Rose in his paintings of the life of Saint Ursula. He also took solace in Spiritualism, trying to contact Rose's spirit.

Rose and Ruskin's romance is alluded to in Nabokov's novel Lolita. According to Wolfgang Kemp "the whole work is riddled with allusions and direct references to the la Touches". The Passion of John Ruskin, a short film about the relationship, was made in 1994 by Alex Chappel, starring Mark McKinney (Ruskin) and Neve Campbell (Rose).




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Rose La Touche" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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