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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Cottages at Leukerbad Thomas Matthews Rooke

  • Curator’s description:


    The drawing shows the end of a terrace of ramshackle two-storey cottages built of stone and wood, with the end of a steep tiled roof rising to a pinnacle (a church?) and steep hillsides wreathed in mist behind. Cook and Wedderburn identify the scene as being in Leukerbad, a small village in the Valais.

    They date the drawing to September 1884, and this would fit with Rooke's known movements: Ruskin sent him from Ravenna to Brig, also in the Valais, in July 1884, and he was in Sallanches by 3 October. As noted by Cook and Wedderburn, there were no entries for nos 155-175 in the Standard Series in Ruskin's catalogues; this drawing was first recorded in the series in 1906.

    There are no known references to Leukerbad in Ruskin's writings, although he noted, of another drawing by Rooke showing "The Lower Portion of an old House at Brieg [sic]", that 'This serves to illustrate the type of building which forms the home of the inhabitants in the old streets of the towns in Switzerland as distinguished from the picturesque châlets built for their residence among the mountains.... Here the domestic architecture, if it can be dignified by the term, is of the plainest construction of plastered walls, contrasting strikingly with the beauty of the balconied wooden structures that grace the mountain slopes.' (White, p. 442, in Library Edition, XXX.225.) These cottages would presumably fall somewhere between the two, although Rooke was given a great deal of flexibility in what he chose to draw.

  • Details

    Thomas Matthews Rooke (1842 - 1942)
    Object type
    Material and technique
    watercolour and bodycolour over graphite on paper
    345 x 451 mm
    Associated place

    Commissioned by John Ruskin in 1884 and presumably later presented to the Ruskin Drawing School (University of Oxford)

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


  • References in which this object is cited include:


    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. 171


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