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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The Case dei Guinigi, Lucca John Wharlton Bunney

  • Curator’s description:


    The drawing shows the complex of buildings and towers called the Case dei Guinigi, from the corner of the Via Guinigi (now Via San Simone) and Via Sant' Andrea, built in the second half of the thirteenth century. These take the form of a large, rectangular building of three storeys, in brick and stone. A loggia on the corner of the lower storey has been filled in, with rectangular, classicising windows inserted where the arches used to be; the many windows on the first and second floors comprise units of two, three or four lights topped by trefoil-headed arches, each unit set below a round-headed arch. The tall, square tower in the background is topped by machicolations.

    On 11 November 1866 Ruskin, concerned that Bunney had been developing bad habits in his drawing in Florence, wrote to him and asked him to go to Lucca to draw Santa Maria della Rosa and the Guinigi palace. On 13 February, Ruskin again wrote to Bunney, saying that he had received the three drawings he had requested: 'I am entirely delighted with these drawings. They are exactly what I wanted and exquisitely careful, and laboriousy faithful and successfully laborious. You must be in "splendid health" to be able to do anything like them.' The three drawings were placed together in the Reference Series, where they were first catalogued in 1872.

    Reviewing Lord Lindsay's "History of Christian Art" in 1847, Ruskin used the palace as an example of 'the truly noble form of domestic Gothic', although it is difficult to reconcile his discussion of arch-forms in the discussion with those shown in this drawing (§ 24 = XII.194-5). Ruskin was also concerned about the building's destruction by having the brickwork cleaned - or, in his words, 'scraped over' (Standard and Reference Series catalogue, no. 82).

  • Details

    John Wharlton Bunney (1828 - 1882)
    Object type
    Material and technique
    graphite on Whatman wove paper
    517 x 403 mm
    Associated place
    All in graphite.

    bottom left corner: 1
    bottom right: Palazzo di Paolo Guinigi in Lucca Jany 7th 67 -

    towards the bottom, right (recent): Ref I 83 | Bunney | 15-5-70 unmounted
    to the left, the Ruskin School's stamp

    Commissioned by John Ruskin in 1866; 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:


    Ruskin, John, Catalogue of the Reference Series Including Temporarily the First Section of the Standard Series (London: Smith, Elder, [1872]), cat. Reference no. 83

    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. Reference no. 83


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Position in Ruskin’s Collection

Ruskin's Catalogues

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