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 Reynolds's Portrait of Princess Sophia Matilda of Gloucester Thomas Watson

  • Curator’s description:

    Description

    The print shows a young girl crouched on the ground, one arm around a small dog that lies beside her. It is set within a plain, fictive frame. She is Sophia Matilda (born 1773), daughter of Prince William Henry, Duke of Gloucester, and thus a niece (not, as Ruskin had it in his title, a daughter) of George III. Reynolds's painting was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1774; it is now in the Royal Collection.

    The print first appears in the collection in 1872, in the catalogues of the Rudimentary Series, where Ruskin listed it as no. 125, "A Daughter of George III, with her Terrier (Reynolds)", in the second section of the fifth cabinet, "Late Italian Revival, Spanish and English". It retained its position in the printed catalogues of the series, but does not appear in Ruskin's 1878 rearrangement. It was last recorded by Cook and Wedderburn, in 1906; the print could not be found by Hewison when compiling his 1984 edition of the Rudimentary Series catalogue. Consequently, it is represented here by an impression in the British Museum (accession no. 1941-12-13-598, state II in Chaloner Smith).

    In his catalogue entry, Ruskin described the print as 'Consummate English art of the Revival'. He referred to it in his lecture on the relationship of organic form to art, delivered on 2 March 1872, comparing it to a print after Titian's "Portrait of Clarissa Strozzi" (no. 42 in the Standard Series) - considering the Reynolds 'much more delightful'. They stood there as examples of the practice of adding an animal to a portrait either to accompany or contrast with the human sitter - a practice which Ruskin deplored in modern art but felt was done with 'a deep sense of the mystery of the comparative existences of living creatures, and of the methods of vice and virtue exhibited by them' by the old masters. (The Eagle's Nest, §§ 151-152 = XXII 224-5.)

  • Details

    Artist/maker
    Thomas Watson (1748 - 1781) (engraver)
    after Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723 - 1792)
    Object type
    print
    Material and technique
    mezzotint on laid paper
    Dimensions
    [278 x 329 mm (plate)]
    Associated people
    W. Shropshire (active c. 1774) (publisher)
    Thomas Watson (1748 - 1781) (publisher)
    Inscription
    Within the print, along the bottom edge, just inside the frame, engraved:
    left: Painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds.
    centre: Publish'd Jany. 1st. 1775, for W. Shropshire No. 158 & T. Watson No. 142 New Bond Street.
    right: Engraved by Thos. Watson
    Provenance

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

    No. of items
    1
    Accession no.
    RUD.125
  • 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. 125

    Ruskin, John, ‘The Eagle's Nest: Ten Lectures on the Relation of Natural Science to Art, Given Before the University of Oxfored, in Lent Term, 1872’, Edward T. Cook and Alexander Wedderburn, eds, The Works of John Ruskin: Library Edition, 39 (London: George Allen, 1903-1912), 22

    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. 125

    Ruskin, John, Instructions in the Preliminary Exercise Arranged For the Lower Drawing-School (London: Spottiswoode, 1873), cat. Rudimentary no. 125

    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. 125, RUD.125

    Ruskin, John, ‘The Works of John Ruskin’, Edward T. Cook and Alexander Wedderburn, eds, The Works of John Ruskin: Library Edition, 39 (London: George Allen, 1903-1912), vol. XXII, pl. XX, f.p. 224

    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. 125

Location

    • not found

Position in Ruskin’s Collection

Ruskin's Catalogues

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