“Ragland Castle When Newly Built” [drawing]

“Ragland Castle when newly built”

Pencil; full‐page, broadside, with bottom of image oriented to gutter of Red Book, MS III.
The drawing shows the gatehouse with battlements and the entrance to the castle, leaving invisible the moated Citadel or Great Tower, which is situated to the left of and forward from the gatehouse. In Historical and Descriptive Accounts of the Ancient and Present State of Ragland Castle [11th ed., 1829], the Monmouth printer, Charles Heath (1761–1830), described the approach to the castleʼs entrance as the Ruskins would have seen it: “This front possesses a grandeur superior to every other part of this magnificent edifice. The towers which defended the principal entrance, with the broken angle of the Yellow Tower or Citadel [not shown in Ruskinʼs drawing], forcibly arrest the strangerʼs attention on his entrance into this Court [opening from the inside of the gatehouse]. It would be difficult, indeed, to find language sufficient to express, in its just colours, our admiration of this scene. Like the entrance into Tintern Abbey, we stand before it overcome by the power of its imposing dignity, and feel unwilling to proceed to other parts of this extensive ruin” (n.p.). The Ruskinsʼ acquaintance with this guidebook is possibly evidenced by Johnʼs title for this drawing, which seems to refer to Heathʼs method of organizing information under the two heads, “The Castle in Its Present State, as It Is Now Shewn” and “The Castle in Its Splendor”—the latter reconstructing the castleʼs past state, “when newly built,” as Ruskin puts it.