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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Christ on the Cross Albrecht Dürer

  • Curator’s description:


    Christ hangs from the cross whilst the Virgin stands to the left and St John the Evangelist to the right. The Magdalene can just be seen kneeling at the foot of the cross, and another woman (presumably Mary Cleophas) on the left edge, behind the Virgin's shoulder. The soldier clutching a halberd may be intended for Saint Longinus. A skull sits at the foot of the cross. The engraving is no. 11 of Dürer's engraved "Passion" series.

    Ruskin first catalogued the print in 1871, in the first edition of the Educational Catalogue, where it was framed with another engraving form the same series, "Christ carrying the Cross", as no. 31 E, part of Case III, "Illustrations of Northern Gothic, with its resultant Art", alongside several other Dürers. Although Ruskin never precisely identified which prints from the "Passion" were framed here, they were identified by Cook and Wedderburn ( XXI.86 n. 4). By 1874 (Educational catalogue, 2nd ed.), the frame had moved to Case V, "Elementary Illustrations of Landscape" - perhaps it to keep it with the other Dürers which surrounded it, as neither print displays much landscape behind the figures. It was described there as 'perfect in execution'. In Ruskin's "Abbeville" catalogue, several prints from the "Passion" were described as characteristic of Flamboyant design, and as 'Grotesque developed', although 'never surpassed in thoughtful masterhood of line engraving, or in ... special phase of imagination' (no. 22 = XIX.273).

  • Details

    Albrecht Dürer (1471 - 1528) (engraver)
    Object type
    Material and technique
    engraving on laid paper
    118 x 74 mm (sheet)
    In the print, all engraved:
    on a plaque at the top of the cross, top centre: INRI
    bottom left corner: 1511
    bottom right corner, on a plaque lying on the ground: Dürer's characteristic monogram

    Recto, lower left, graphite (recent): B-13 [followed by a tick]

    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:


    Schoch, Rainer, Mende, Matthias, and Scherbaum, Anna, Albrecht Dürer: das druckgraphische Werk, 3 (Munich/London/New York: Prestel, 2001-2004), no. 55

    Meder, Josef, Dürer-Katalog, ein handbuch über Albrecht Dürers stiche, radierungen, Holzschnitte, deren zustände, ausgaben und wasserzeichen (Wien: Gilhofer & Ranschburg, 1932), no. 13

    Bartsch, Adam von, Le Peintre Graveur, 21 vols (Vienna: J. von Degen, 1803-1821), cat. vol. VII, p. 37, no. 13

    Ruskin, John, Catalogue of the Educational Series (London: Smith, Elder, 1871), cat. Educational no. 31.E

    Ruskin, John, Catalogue of the Educational Series (London: Spottiswoode, 1874), cat. Educational no. 124

    Hollstein, F. W. H., German Engravings Etchings and Woodcuts, ca. 1400 - 1700 (Amsterdam: Menno Hertzberger, 1954-), cat. vol. VII, p. 13, no. 13

    Bartsch, Adam von, The Illustrated Bartsch, founding editor Walter L. Strauss, general editor John T. Spike (New York: Abaris Books, 1978-), no. 1001.13

    Ruskin, John, ‘References to the Series of Paintings and Sketches, From Mr. Ruskin's Collection, Shown in Illustration of the Relations of Flamboyant Architecture to Contemporary and Subsequent Art’, Edward T. Cook and Alexander Wedderburn, eds, The Works of John Ruskin: Library Edition, 39 (London: George Allen, 1903-1912), 19, no. 22 = XIX.273

    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. 124


    • Western Art Print Room

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