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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Enlarged Drawing of John Ruskin's "Sketch of the Head of a living Lion" Arthur Burgess

  • Curator’s description:


    The drawing has suffered: the top right corner is missing, there are several tears along the top edge, which has been creased, there is a long crease running diagonally across the top right corner, and there is a small hole between the lion's chin and his neck. The surface has been rubbed, smudging the chalk, and the paper is stained (particularly noticeable on the verso, presumably from an acidic backboard). There is a splash of brown paint in the shading below and to the right of the lion's ear.

    The drawing shows the head of a lion, in profile to the right. It is enlarged, practically line for line, from Ruskin's graphite "Sketch of the Head of a Living Lion", no. 47 in the Rudimentary Series, being about four-and-a-half times larger than Ruskin's study. The network of squares across Burgess's drawing will have aided the process of enlargement.

    The drawing was first catalogued by Ruskin in the Standard and Reference Series catalogue of 1872, when it was placed alongside drawings and photographs of medieval Italian sculpture (including lions) as no. 75 in the Reference Series. It must date from after Ruskin's drawing, made, according to Cook and Wedderburn (XXI.179 n. 2), in 1870, and its appearance in the catalogue in 1872. Paul Tucker, writing in the exhibition catalogue "Ruskin and Tuscany" (no. 107), suggests that it may have been made in connection with Ruskin's lectures on "The Relation of Natural Science to Art" (published as "The Eagle's Nest"), which were delivered in February and March 1872.

  • Details

    Arthur Burgess (1843 - 1886)
    after John Ruskin (1819 - 1900)
    Object type
    Material and technique
    black chalk over graphite squares on buff wove paper
    706 x 511 mm
    Recto, bottom right, in graphite: Old. Catalogue | 75.

    Verso, above and to the left of centre, the Ruskin School's stamp

    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:


    Ruskin, John, Catalogue of the Reference Series Including Temporarily the First Section of the Standard Series (London: Smith, Elder, [1872]), cat. Reference no. 75

    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. 75


    • Western Art Print Room

Position in Ruskin’s Collection

Ruskin's Catalogues

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