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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Foreground Study at Brantwood John Ruskin

  • Curator’s description:


    A stream tumbles down from top right to bottom left, between the rocky ledges of a steep fern- and plant-covered slope, weaving its way between twisted tree trunks. Only the area immediately surrounding the stream has been painted in, using lamp-black over graphite. The remaining areas of the page contain suggestions of outline in graphite only, save for the leaves of some trees in the upper left which have been done in grey wash.

    The drawing was made in the garden at Brantwood, where Ruskin had taken up residence in September 1872. It was not listed in either of Ruskin's published catalogues of the Reference Series (1870 and 1872), and was first recorded in the collection in 1906 when Cook and Wedderburn listed it as no. 169 in the Reference Series. Taylor suggests that Ruskin chose to include it towards the end of his Professorship, as part of a miscellaneous group of drawings which include a number of his own Palermo sketches of 1874, a Turner and five drawings by T. M. Rooke. These follow the few prints after Turner landscapes which had been placed in the series by 1870.

    There is a similar but smaller, undated study in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, which Ruskin had given to 'JRS' in 1889.

  • Details

    John Ruskin (1819 - 1900)
    Object type
    Material and technique
    lampblack and wash over graphite on wove paper
    535 x 416 mm
    Associated place

    Presumably presented by John Ruskin to the Ruskin Drawing School (University of Oxford); first recorded in the Ruskin Drawing School in 1906; 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. 266

    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. 169


    • Western Art Print Room

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