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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Recto: Perspective Study of an inverted oval Bowl. Verso: Perspective Study of a circular Tub with two vertical Lugs John Ruskin

  • Curator’s description:


    Recto: a white, oval bowl decorated with blue lines, placed upside down and seen obliquely from above. The surface on which it sits has been sketched in with broad strokes of brown watercolour. Beneath the watercolour and bodycolour can be seen a network of ruled graphite lines, organised around two horizontals and two sets of orthogonals receding to points beyond the upper left and right corners respectively, which define the perspective construction of the drawing. A crudely-drawn rectangle is indicated in graphite, defining the area to be made visible through the mount, approximately 14.5 x 17 cm.

    Verso: a cream-coloured tub with two vertical lugs sits on a blue-green surface, seen obliquely from above. It is contained in a similar perspective construction to the bowl on the recto, although on the verso this is not level, but tilts down to the left.

    According to Taylor, this perspective drawing, its companion in the frame, and those in frame 215 of the Educational Series, were made by Ruskin during a period of intense work on the Teaching Collection in the spring of 1871. They do not appear in the "Catalogue of Examples" (1870), but are listed in the first catalogue of the Educational Series (1871) in Case IX, 'Illustrations of the Connection between Decorative and Realistic Design', as nos 2 and 2 A. They remained in the same positions in the 1874, although renumbered 214 and 215 respectively, but are not mentioned in the 1878 reorganisation of the series.

    Taylor relates the drawings in frame 214 to problem XIV, 'To draw a Truncated Circular Cone', in Ruskin's "Elements of Perspective" (XV.287-289), although they do not seem to have been intended as direct illustrations of that particular text.

  • Details

    John Ruskin (1819 - 1900)
    Object type
    Material and technique
    watercolour and bodycolour over graphite on pale brown wove paper
    220 x 296 mm
    within the drawing, on the base of the bowl, in watercolour: SPODE & | COPELAND
    labelling the perspective grid, all in graphite, clockwise from:
    centre of left edge: 2
    bottom, left: St
    bottom, centre: 1/7. 1/7
    to the right: 3rd square
    to the right: 1/7
    bottom right, partly obscure by patch: [...] square
    right, centre: 2nd sq/ [?]

    Verso (described with the image upright), all in graphite:
    within the image, arranged around the lip of the bowl, running anti-clockwise from the 10 o'clock poistion, numbers '1' to '10', with an additional '4' which has been crossed out
    to the left of the tub: 2 [written boldly over a neater '1']
    just below: 3 [written boldly over a neater '1']
    just to the left of the tub, level with its bottom: 4 [written boldly over a neater '2']
    left, just above centre, tipped onto its right side, the Ruskin Drawing School's stamp
    bottom left, in graphite, upside down: E 214 lower 13 - 5 - [...] | '2 E' on old mount

    Presented by John Ruskin to the Ruskin Drawing School (University of Oxford), 1875; transferred from the Ruskin Drawing School to the Ashmolean Museum, c.1949.

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


  • References in which this object is cited include:


    Taylor, Gerald, ‘John Ruskin: A Catalogue of Drawings by John Ruskin in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford’, 7 fascicles, 1998, Oxford, Ashmolean Museum, no. 206.ii

    Ruskin, John, Catalogue of the Educational Series (London: Smith, Elder, 1871), cat. Educational no. IX.2

    Ruskin, John, Catalogue of the Educational Series (London: Spottiswoode, 1874), cat. Educational no. 214

    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. 214


    • Western Art Print Room

Position in Ruskin’s Collection

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