In the 1870s and 1880s, his faith was stronger than immediately after the 'unconversion
' crisis but more eclectic and generous.
(This despite the Italian artist's allegiance to the Counter-Reformation, which in itself ran counter to Ruskin's Evangelical Protestant upbringing.) Later, however, after his 'unconversion
' of 1858, Ruskin judged Tintoretto's San Rocco cycles as mere schemes of decoration, to be considered in purely aesthetic terms.
He ends with the case of the notorious bookseller James Lackington, who moved from unconversion
in his Memoirs to reconversion in his Confessions.
These narratives began as oral set pieces that were then inserted into journals, sermons, or letters, formed the heart of testimonies at Love Feasts, and were carried abroad in letters that were read in society meetings on "letter days." Serial journals and successive publications soon became a standard means of telling an unfolding life story of spiritual development, including not only multiple accounts of spiritual awakenings but also, in some instances, stories of apostasy or "unconversion
" as in the case of Joseph Humphreys (86-87).
In 1858, on a holiday in Turin, he underwent a religious "unconversion
" caused by Veronese's Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, which he had been studying in Turin's Municipal Museum.
Ruskin, for example, underwent just such a transformative experience with Tintoretto's stupendous paintings in the Scuola San Rocco in Venice: "I never was so utterly crushed to the earth before any human intellect as I was today before Tintoret," he wrote his father in September 1845: "As for painting, I think I didn't know what it meant till today." Some years later, Ruskin sustained what he termed an "unconversion
" inspired by Veronese's Solomon and the Queen of Sheba in Turin.
The first is a story of conversion, the second of unconversion
, and the last of subversion.
Beyond his 'unconversion
' (see XXIX, 89) in 1858 he had moved sufficiently far from Christianity in the early 1860s to tell Charles Eliot Norton in 1862 he had 'become a Pagan' (XXXVI, 426).
Though his mother's watchful evangelicalism nurtured Ruskin as a youth, some scholars have perpetuated the belief that he suffered a "catastrophic and irrecoverable `loss of faith'" (xiii) in his self-proclaimed "unconversion
" in 1858.