PHOTOGRAPHS discovered in a Cumbrian auction house in 2006 have been confirmed as once belonging to, and mostly taken by, John Ruskin, the great 19th-century art critic, writer and artist.

The many scenes of Italy, France and Switzerland include the largest collection of daguerreotypes of Venice in the world and probably the earliest surviving photographs of the Alps.

The images were purchased from the Cumbrian auction house Penrith Farmers & Kidd's for a hammer price of £75,000, from an original estimate of just £80.

Following an extensive conservation programme and years of research, a new book - Carrying Off the Palaces: John Ruskin’s Lost Daguerreotypes - explores the remarkable find and the many aspects of John Ruskin’s work with photography.

The book’s authors are the prominent photographic dealers, collectors and historians, Ken and Jenny Jacobson. They have been collecting historic photographs for almost 45 years.

Mr Jacobson said the discovery of 188 previously unknown daguerreotypes by Ruskin, whose country home was Brantwood near Coniston, was 'the most exciting of our career'.

"The propitious circumstances of this find were truly magnified many times over by the fascinating discoveries we made during our research and the generosity, intelligence and friendship we shared with other scholars and our conservators.

"We feel that the quality and unorthodox style of many of Ruskin’s daguerreotypes will come as a major surprise to both photographic historians and those in the field of Ruskin scholarship. It is an astonishing accomplishment for a polymath better known for his achievements in so many other disciplines. Ruskin’s daguerreotypes would be a sensational new revelation in the history of photography even if he were completely unknown. We hope the work will be as intriguing to others as it has been to us.”

John Ruskin (1819–1900) was the most eminent British art critic of his time and also writer, artist and social reformer.

The daguerreotype, the world’s first publicly announced photographic process, was invented in 1839 by Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre.