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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Engraving of Ruskin's drawing of Growing Shoot of Mock Privet (Phillyrea), seen in Profile George Allen

  • Curator’s description:

    Description

    The print shows a shoot of mock privet (Phillyrea), and reproduces Ruskin's drawing, done at some point between March and September 1867 and currently no. 267 in the Educational Series.

    The drawing first appears in the Teaching Collection as no. 292, "Complete study of leafage in light and shade", placed in the second section of Case XII of the Rudimentary Series, devoted to "Studies in full chiaroscuro", in the 1872 catalogues of the series. It remained in the same position in subsequent catalogues, although it is not mentioned in Ruskin's 1878 reorganisation of the series.

    Ruskin referred to his original drawing in his fifth lecture on the elementary principles of sculpture, on "Structure", on 3 December 1870, when he emphasised the importance of an ability to draw natural forms for sculptors, stone-masons and architects. This engraving was prepared for the published version of the lectures, "Aratra Pentelici", where it appeared as plate XII (not XIII, as described by Hewison), together with a drawing of the shoot's outline, as an example of the work of which modern sculptors were incapable, but which a Florentine sculptor might achieve in relief only an eighth of an inch deep (Aratra Pentelici, § 177 = XX.325-326; see fig. 15 on p. 325 and pl. XIII, f.p. 325). According to Cook and Wedderburn (XXI. 288 n. 1), 'On the proof submitted by Mr. Allen, Ruskin wrote, "Nothing can be better than this-lettering, colour, and all."'

  • Details

    Artist/maker
    George Allen (engraver)
    after John Ruskin (1819 - 1900)
    Object type
    print
    Material and technique
    mezzotint and stipple engraving on wove paper
    Dimensions
    144 x 222 mm (sheet)
    Inscription
    Recto:
    lettered below the print:
    left: Drawn by John Ruskin.
    right: Engraved by G. Allen.
    centre: XII. | Branch of Phillyrea
    bottom right, in graphite: on the Paper to be used

    Verso, bottom right, the Ruskin School's stamp
    Provenance

    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
    1
    Accession no.
    WA.RS.RUD.292
  • Subject terms allocated by curators:

    Subjects

  • References in which this object is cited include:

    References

    Ruskin, John, Instructions in the Preliminary Exercises Arranged for the Lower Drawing-School (London: Smith, Elder, 1872), cat. Rudimentary no. 292

    Ruskin, John, Instructions in the Preliminary Exercise Arranged For the Lower Drawing-School (London: Spottiswoode, 1873), cat. Rudimentary no. 292

    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. Rudimentary no. 292

    Ruskin, John, ‘Aratra Pentelici: Six Lectures on the Elements of Sculpture, Given Before the University of Oxford in Michaelmas Term, 1870’, Edward T. Cook and Alexander Widderburn, eds, The Works of John Ruskin: Library Edition, 39 (London: George Allen, 1903-1912), 20, pl. XIII f.p. 325

    Ruskin, John, Instructions in Practice of Elementary Drawing, Arranged with Reference to the First Series of Examples in the Drawings Schools of the University of Oxford (n.p., [1872]), cat. Rudimentary no. 292

    Ruskin, John, The Ruskin Art Collection at Oxford: Catalogue of the Rudimentary Series, in the Arrangement of 1873, ed. Robert Hewison (London: Lion and Unicorn Press, 1984), cat. Rudimentary no. 292, RUD.292

Location

    • Western Art Print Room

Glossary

stipple engraving

  • stipple engraving

    Technique of tapping the surface of a material with a pointed implement to produce a pattern of tiny dots that builds up to create a picture.

Position in Ruskin’s Collection

Ruskin's Catalogues

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