The Elements of Drawing, John Ruskin’s teaching collection at Oxford

The Elements of Drawing, John Ruskin’s teaching collection at Oxford

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Print of the Decoration on a Greek Crater, showing Demeter, Kore, and Triptolemus Fourquemin

  • Curator’s description:


    The lithograph shows, left to right, Persephone, holding a plough; Demeter (called Kore by Ruskin), holding two flaming torches; and Triptolemus, about to step into his winged chariot. It reproduces the decoration of a crater which was in the collection of the Duc de Luynes. The print was plate LXIV in the third volume of Lenormant and de Witte's "Elite des monuments céramographiques", published in 1858. It was presumably taken from Ruskin's copy of the work now preserved in the Ruskin Library (inventory no. 1996B2621), which is missing many of its plates.

    The print was first catalogued by Ruskin in 1870, when it appeared as no 23 H in the Educational Series in the "Catalogue of Examples", accompanying plates from Lenormant and de Witte representing Selene and Triptolemus. In 1871, it had moved slightly to no. 23 C, placed in Case II, "Elementary Illustrations of Greek Design". It remained in the same position, although renumbered as no. 41, in the 1874 catalogue of the series, but does not appear in Ruskin's 1878 reorganisation of the series. (Cook and Wedderburn's note (XXI.63) that it became no. 42 is incorrect.) Although still recorded in the collection by Cook and Wedderburn in 1906, it cannot now be found, and is represented here by a surrogate taken from the Bodleian Library's copy of Lenormant and de Witte.

    In his entry on the print in the "Catalogue of Examples", and in the instructions in the 1871 and 1874 Educational Series catalogues, Ruskin considered the drawing decadent, its lines vulgar. He wanted his students to copy Persephone's plough, and explained how the wings on Triptolemus's chariot symbolised rain-clouds.

  • Details

    Fourquemin (active c. 1835 - c. 1861) (printer)
    J. Cousselin (c. 1858) (lithographer)
    Object type
    Material and technique
    watercolour and bodycolour over lithograph on wove paper
    surrogate: 247 x 442 mm (stone)
    All printed, just outside the border of the image:
    top left: T. III
    top right: PL.LXIV.
    bottom left: Lith. de Fourquemin
    bottom right: J. Cousselin sc.

    Presented by John Ruskin to the Ruskin Drawing School (University of Oxford), 1875; not recorded in the Drawing School after 1906.

    No. of items
    Accession no.
  • Subject terms allocated by curators:


  • References in which this object is cited include:


    Ruskin, John, Catalogue of the Educational Series (London: Smith, Elder, 1871), cat. Educational no. 23.C

    Ruskin, John, Catalogue of the Educational Series (London: Spottiswoode, 1874), cat. Educational no. 41

    Ruskin, John, Catalogue of Examples Arranged for Elementary Study in the University Galleries (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1870), cat. Educational no. 23.H

    Lenormant, Charles, and Jean de Witte, Elite des monuments céramographiques: Matériaux pour l'histoire des religions et des moeurs de l'antiquité, 4 vols in 8 (Paris: Leleux, 1844-1861), vol. III, pl. LXIV

    Ruskin, John, ‘The Ruskin Art Collection at Oxford: Catalogues, Notes and Instructions’, Edward T. Cook and Alexander Wedderburn, eds, The Works of John Ruskin: Library Edition, 39 (London: George Allen, 1903-1912), 21, cat. Educational no. 41


    • not found

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