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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The Glorification of the Virgin Albrecht Dürer

  • Curator’s description:


    The Virgin sits in the centre, with the infant Christ standing on her knee as they both read the book held by an angel to the right; another angel plays a harp. To the left kneels Saint Catherine of Alexandria, identified by the fragment of her wheel on the ledge which runs along the front of the picture. More saints stand behind the Virgin, from left to right: Saint Jerome, wearing his cardinal's hat, his lion just visible behind the column on the left; Saint Paul, holding his sword; a bishop, perhaps Saint Augustine, just behind him; Saint Anthony Abbot, with his cross-tipped staff from which hangs a bell; Saint John the Baptist, holding the lamb and banner of the Resurrection; and Joseph, holding his hat before him. The wings of another angel can be seen behind the Virgin's head. The figures are placed in a grand bedroom (the curtained bed on the left), with a figure of Moses holding the tablets of the law in the arch at the top. Putti play with shields and other toys on the ledge in front of the main figures. The print is the last (no. 20) of Dürer's series of woodcuts of "The Life of the Virgin", on which he was working from 1502 until 1511.

    Ruskin first catalogued this print in 1872, when it appeared as "Madonna and Saint Catherine", no. 72 in the Rudimentary Series catalogues, one of the series of Dürers in the second section of the third cabinet in the Rudimentary Series (devoted to 'Greek and Mediæval design'). In his 1878 rearrangement of the series, Ruskin moved the print to no. 69. Although recorded by Cook and Wedderburn and Hewison, the print could not be found in 2003, and the example reproduced here is a surrogate from the Ashmolean's Douce Collection; it is state 'a' before the series was published in book form (the state of Ruskin's print is impossible to identify).

    Ruskin's views on the print were mixed: in his 1878 notes on the rearranged Rudimentary Series (no. 69), he praised the fineness of Dürer's work in Saint Anthony's head and Saint Catherine's hair and jewellery; but he deplored the architecture and the 'monstrous', 'lanky pillars'.

  • Details

    Albrecht Dürer (1471 - 1528) (block cutter)
    Object type
    Material and technique
    woodcut on laid paper
    surrogate: 296 x 213 mm (block)
    Associated people
    Albrecht Dürer (1471 - 1528) (publisher)
    In the print, in woodcut, bottom centre, Dürer's characteristic monogram

    Presented by John Ruskin to the Ruskin Drawing School (University of Oxford), 1875; not recorded in the Drawing School after 1906.

    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. 185

    Meder, Josef, Dürer-Katalog, ein handbuch über Albrecht Dürers stiche, radierungen, Holzschnitte, deren zustände, ausgaben und wasserzeichen (Wien: Gilhofer & Ranschburg, 1932), no. 207

    Bartsch, Adam von, Le Peintre Graveur, 21 vols (Vienna: J. von Degen, 1803-1821), cat. vol. VII, p. 133, no. 95

    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. 72, RUD.072

    Hollstein, F. W. H., German Engravings Etchings and Woodcuts, ca. 1400 - 1700 (Amsterdam: Menno Hertzberger, 1954-), cat. vol. VII, p. 163, no. 207

    Bartsch, Adam von, The Illustrated Bartsch, founding editor Walter L. Strauss, general editor John T. Spike (New York: Abaris Books, 1978-), no. 1001.295

    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. 72

    Ruskin, John, Instructions in the Preliminary Exercises Arranged for the Lower Drawing-School (London: Smith, Elder, 1872), cat. Rudimentary no. 72

    Ruskin, John, Instructions in the Preliminary Exercise Arranged For the Lower Drawing-School (London: Spottiswoode, 1873), cat. Rudimentary no. 72

    Ruskin, John, ‘Rudimentary Series 1878’, 1878, Oxford, Oxford University Archives, cat. Rudimentary no. 69

    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. 72


    • not found

Position in Ruskin’s Collection

Ruskin's Catalogues

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