This book on art argues that recent painters emerging from the tradition of the picturesque are superior in the art of landscape to the old masters. The book was primarily written as a defense of the later work of J.M.W. Turner. Ruskin used the book to argue that art should devote itself to the accurate documentation of nature. In Ruskin's view Turner had developed from early detailed documentation of nature to a later more profound insight into natural forces and atmospheric effects. Ruskin added later volumes in subsequent years.