The author starts his work with an explanation of why he is presenting the work. He claims that this work is based on personal observation. Therefore, some architects might get valuable details from what they know. The writer accepts conflicts, which may arise as the reader goes through the work. He claims that he has suffered in a result of the destruction of architecture, which he loved. It has been neglected, causing his heart to pain. Instead, it has been replaced with something different, which he can by no means love. His work is at the middle of uncertainty and opposition of architecture systems. Therefore, the author does not use a lot of time modifying confidence of his principle statements. He accepts any positive opinion, knowing it may be wrong at some point. The author selects a few buildings for reference. He is aware that the reader will be surprised by this small number of referenced buildings. However, he does it with purpose. He illustrates each chapter with one or two examples, which he feels are appropriate. He selects the buildings, which he love, as well as those he feels, have not been represented as they should be represented in architecture schools.
The author attributes his work to a conversation he once made with an artist, who had worked in this field for many years. This artist had enough experience. His work unites color resplendence with drawing perfection up to date. John Rustin enquired from this experienced author on how to become perfect in this field. In his response, the experienced artist told John Rustin to know what he want to do in life, and do it comprehensively. He explained how important it is to express success principles in every aspect of a human life. This artist believed that failure is attributed to the impatience or insufficiency of labor. He argued that men propose perfection at the expense of ridicule and blame. This perfection might be impossible and dangerous as it interferes with human conception. It hinders acknowledgment of integrity in human beings. Whenever a man's conscience and sense, assisted by revelation, are enough, they enable him to discover what is correct and what is wrong. This makes him differentiate possibility from impossibility. The man acknowledges his strength instead of his colleagues' strengths. In this book-length essay, John Ruskin defined the principles of architecture, which are lamps of: truth, sacrifice, obedience, memory, life, beauty, and power.
In chapter one, John explains his first principle, which is the lamp of sacrifice. The author points out that architecture adorns and disposes construction, which man requires in his day to day life. The sight of architecture contributes to human mental health, pleasure, and power. There is a difference between a building and architecture. To build is to confirm; that is, to bring together several pieces of the receptacle or edifice, and the act of adjusting them to a considerable size. Architecture is arranged in five categories. These are devotional, memorial, civil, military, and domestic architectures. The devotional architecture includes buildings raised for the service of God. The memorial architecture includes tombs and monuments. Civil architecture refers to buildings raised by societies or nations for common purposes. Military architecture is concerned with the defense of the society or nation. Domestic architecture deals with home dwelling places. The lamp of sacrifice prompts human beings to offer precious things simply because they are precious. This means that precious things should never be offered because they are necessary or useful. Their precious nature defeats all other purposes. There are two forms in human beings. The first form exercise self-denial to acquire self-discipline. The second form is the urge to honor other persons as a costless sacrifice.
Particular ordinances have been appointed for specific purposes of human beings history. However, this ordinance is, sometimes, abrogated by the same authority. It is not possible to assume that God's character can be changed at any particular time. God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He is pleased with the same things and displeased by the same things as he used to be. He does not change. His pleasure to be consulted is, however, modified by human beings' behavior. This means that human needs and acts make their relationship with God stronger or weaker. God is a Spirit and remains a Spirit. He appreciates precious sacrifice offered from human beings with a particular reason. God values cost less sacrifices. This is the sacrifice He accepts with no conditions. This costliness is what He expects human beings to value throughout their lives. He offered His only son as a costless sacrifice. It was unnecessary for this sacrifice during the time of Moses. Human beings had evil acts required redemption. God took the initiative to offer His only son as a sacrifice to save them from their rebellious nature.
The author asks many rhetorical questions. He wonders whether it was necessary for the Mosaic system to be carried forward to all services in the temple or the tabernacle. He wonders whether the color and styles in temples should have been moved from generation to generation. He asserts that God would be agitated by the images of Egyptian gods. He could by no means accept the gifts and honors paid to these gods. God declared his hatred to idolatry through repeated promises, threat, and commandments. He punished those who disobeyed this commandment severely. It was clear in the minds of the people that God will never tolerate idol worship. God commanded that people should not make images to honor him as other nations were doing in honor of their gods. This indicates the power of architecture. The different colors in the tabernacle had specific meanings, which reminded people of a certain occasion. They should not be replaced with other colors as this would destroy the original meaning. God expects human beings to offer themselves as a whole sacrifice. They should accept his willingness to happen in their lives. The author argues that people must offer tithe to God without forgetting to keep his commandments.
John Ruskin emphasis that offering their precious gifts to the poor is acceptable. It is an honorable ministry, which acknowledges God's name. This act hallows His name more than material offering in His temple. He criticizes those who think that any other sacrifice can surpass offering to the poor. He continues to say that he will not marble churches in every village. The church does not require visible splendors since it has power, which is independent. The church has purity exposed to all people including the builders. He claims that people do not go to church only for physical presence but to offer sacrifices as well. Giving is the main idea, but not a gift. He deprecates the attribution of other usefulness's and acceptances to the precious gift itself. The first fruits from an Israelites garden were needed to act as fidelity testimony. This was rewarded with an increment in fruits of that garden. It is important to obtain success; however, human beings lose this success in their efforts to observe it. No one is a perfect architect to work beneath his or her strength. The author observes that there is no architect or builder who has ever done it perfectly on his own. Architects speak of overprice ornament. This overcharging occurs to bad ornaments, which architects find worthless.
The second principle that the author discusses is the lamp of truth. He claims that painting art is usually thought to be nothing more than an effort to deceive people. He criticizes this assumption claiming that painting art has a true meaning. He explains his idea using a rock or a mountain with a specific shape. He distinctly draws the shape of the rock or mountain as words cannot give the true image. The next step is to represent the color of the rock. Since words cannot do this, he dyes the paper to show the color of the rock. After every step, he uses words to show what he has done. At last, the scene seems to exist irrespective of the fact that it is a paper work. High pleasure is required for one to take into apparent the existence of the rock.
Painting is the best way to communicate imagination in architecture and building. Therefore, painting is not a lie. Lying can only exist if there is an allegation of its existence. This excludes lies that are implied, believed, or made instantly. Lies can also appear in false statements describing a certain color. This is believed to be a great loss of architecture trust. He insists that it is wrong to degrade all painting since some reach the apparent mark of realization. Some paintings qualify to be respected and valued as they meet the required standard. The continuous loss of architecture value can only be gained if people take paintings to be true unless clearly stated otherwise.