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

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

Browse: 1470 objects

Reference URL

Actions

Send e-mail

Contact us about this object

Send e-mail

Send to a friend

Recto: Lamech, Enoch and Tubal-Cain and the End of the First Age. Verso: The Drunkenness of Noah Baccio Baldini

  • Curator’s description:

    Description

    Recto: The drawing is arranged in two registers. On the top are two men, barefoot and wearing animal skins, identified by scrolls fluttering behind them: on the left stands Lamech, holding a huge longbow and an arrow; on the right Enoch sits on a cloud. In the bottom register, Tubal-Cain stands on the left, identified by another scroll and dressed in boots, a cloak and a hat, a hammer raised in his right hand. On the right is a large wreath, held up by four putti, containing an inscription which states that the First Age ends, and the Second begins, at this point.

    Verso: Noah sits sleeping at a table in the foreground, his head in one hand, holding a bunch of grapes with the other. An ornate vase full of grapes sits on the table beside him; he is sheltered by a trellis supporting a vine laden with grapes. A distant landscape contains a church-like building, a huntsman, and the sea with several ships.

    The drawing is described by Ruskin only in his 1878 manuscript revision of the Rudimentary Series, as no. 300, where he states that it is 'a sheet of the book, which I bought some years ago, containing nearly seventy such Drawings made on both sides of its leaves in illustration of Bible-history. This subject, as we are told in the Inscription, closes the First and begins the Second Epoch; representing the era of the Patriarchs by the figures of Lamech, Enoch, and Tubal-Cain ...'. The book in question is the so-called 'Florentine Picture-Chronicle', now preserved in the British Museum; the page which Ruskin included in the Teaching Collection is numbered as folio 6 (although folios 1-4 are now lost), depicting Lamech, Enoch and Tubal-Cain; the verso of this folio depicts the Drunkenness of Noah. Attributed by Colvin to Maso Finiguerra, more recent opinion tends to favour the Florentine engraver of two series of "Planets" and "Prophets and Sibyls" (Hind, Early Italian Engraving, A III and C I-II), now identified with Baccio Baldini: see, for example, Lucy Whitaker, 'Maso Finiguerra, Baccio Baldini and "The Florentine Picture Chronicle"', in Elizabeth Cropper ed., "Florentine Drawing at the Time of Lorenzo the Magnificent", Bologna (Nuova Alfa): 1994, pp. 181-196.

    The book illustrates the history of the world (as conceived in fifteenth-century Florence) up to the birth of Christ; folio 6 recto is the last in the series of patriarchs which finishes the 'First Age' of the world, from the Creation to the Flood, whilst folio 6 verso begins the depictions of the Second Age, which commence with Noah and lead up to the Tower of Babel.

    As with his other works, Ruskin split up the Picture-Chronicle, including this particular folio in the 1878 rearrangement of the Oxford collections. It seems that Ruskin also included two more folios from the volume in the Oxford collections, although they are not listed in any of the catalogues. Speaking in February 1884, he described the double-page opening of "Moses receiving the Tablets of the Law" and "The Golden Calf" (folios 15 verso and 16 recto) as having been presented to the University (Storm-Cloud of the 19th Century, § 41 = XXXIV.43). Two more (folios 13 and 14) were placed in the Museum of the Guild of Saint George. All have been reunited with the main body of the Chronicle. Four more folios were acquired by the British Museum from Joan Severn separately, in 1900; the first four in the book are still missing.

    Speaking on 7 December 1872, Ruskin stated some of the drawings were, 'I have no doubt, by Mantegna in his youth, others by Sandro [Botticelli] himself'. He commented upon the peculiarities of the writing: 'In examining them, I was continually struck by the comparatively feeble and blundering way in which the titles were written, while all the rest of the handling was really superb; and still more surprised when, on the sleeves and hem of the robe of one of the principal figures of women ("Helena rapita da Paris"), I found what seemed to be meant for inscriptions, intricately embroidered; which nevertheless, though beautifully drawn, I could not read.' (Ariadne Florentina, § 187=XXII.426-427.) Similarly, in his 1878 reorganisation he described the beauty of the drawing of Enoch: 'I do not know anything in studies of this rapid kind more beautiful than the rapt expression of his face, nor anything more convincing than the whole Drawing is of the lovely and happy faith of these first Tuscan Schools.'

  • Details

    Artist/maker
    Baccio Baldini (c. 1436 - 1487)
    Object type
    drawing
    Material and technique
    pen and ink and wash over black chalk on laid paper
    Dimensions
    336 x 228 mm (as repaired); inlaid into a page 385 x 282 mm
    Inscription
    Recto:
    within the drawing, in ink:
    on a scroll, top left: LAMEH·FVIT·ANNO·LXXXVI·
    on a scroll, top right: ENOS FVIT·ANNO·VCIXXII·
    on a scroll, lower left: TVBALCAIN·FVIT·ANNO·VC|IIII·XXX
    in the wreath, lower right: ·HCVU· | FINISCIE·LAPR|IMA·ECOMINCA|SECONDDA·|·ETA·
    top right corner, in ink: 6
    bottom left corner, stamped, the British Museum's accession number: 1889-5-27-3

    Verso:
    within the drawing, on a scroll left of centre, in ink: ·NOE·FVIT·AN|NO··LVI·
    bottom right corner, stamped, the British Museum's accession number: 1889-5-27-4
    Provenance

    Purchased in Florence by Edward Schaeffer of Heidelberg, c.1840; sold to Hofrat Schlosser of Neuburg; inherited by Schlosser's nephew, Baron von Bernus; sold for Bernus by Prestel (Frankfurt) to Cléme

    No. of items
    1
    Accession no.
    BM.1889-5-27-3
  • Subject terms allocated by curators:

    Subjects

  • References in which this object is cited include:

    References

    Sheffield: Ruskin Gallery and Collection of the Guild of Saint George, 1993, Ruskin and Tuscany, Clegg, Jeanne and Tucker, Paul, eds (Sheffield: Ruskin Gallery and Collection of the Guild of Saint George, 1993)

    Ruskin, John, ‘Rudimentary Series 1878’, 1878, Oxford, Oxford University Archives, cat. Rudimentary no. 300

    Popham, A. E., and Philip Pouncey, Italian Drawings in the Department of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum: The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries, 2 (London: British Museum, 1950), no. 274

    Colvin, Sidney, A Florentine Picture-Chronicle: Being a Series of Ninety-Nine Drawings Representing Scenes and Personages of Ancient History Sacred and Profane by Maso Finiguerra ... (London: Bernard Quaritch, 1898), cat. nos III & IV, pls III & IV

    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

Location

    • The British Museum, London

Ruskin's Catalogues

  • Ruskin's revision to the Rudimentary series (1878)

    300.

    With whose work, indeed, I close the Rudimentary Series, as with her words I began it. This Drawing, I know not by whose hand, is entirely characteristic of the noblest temper of Florentine Design, and a final Example for us of simple and manly execution carried to extreme refinement without vanity. It is on a sheet of the book, which I bought some years ago, containing nearly seventy such Drawings made on both sides of its leaves in illustration of Bible-history. This subject, as we are told in the Inscription, closes the First and begins the Second Epoch; representing the era R. of the Patriarchs by the figures of Lamech, Enoch, and Tubal-Cain; Lamech holding his bow as saying I have slain a man to my wounding. Tubal-Cain with his hammer, Enoch supported on the wings of two angels and raised from the Earth in a floating cloud from which two other angels emerge. I do not know anything in studies of this rapid kind more beautiful than the rapt expression of his face, nor anything more convincing than the whole Drawing is of the lovely and happy faith of these first Tuscan Schools.

© 2013 University of Oxford - Ashmolean Museum