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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Santa Maria della Rosa, Lucca John Wharlton Bunney

  • Curator’s description:


    The drawing shows the chapel of Santa Maria della Rosa in Lucca, built in 1309 and enlarged in 1333, from the south-eastern corner (liturgically; the north-eastern as the chapel is actually arranged). The statue on the corner nearest the viewer shows the Virgin and Child.

    On 11 November 1866 Ruskin, concerned that Bunney had been developing bad habits in Florence, wrote to him and asked him to go to Lucca to draw Santa Maria della Rosa and the Guinigi palace. On 13 February, Ruskin again wrote to Bunney, saying that he had received the three drawings he had requested: 'I am entirely delighted with these drawings. They are exactly what I wanted and exquisitely careful, and laboriousy faithful and successfully laborious. You must be in "splendid health" to be able to do anything like them.' The three drawings were placed together in the Reference Series, where they were first catalogued in 1872.

    Although Ruskin did not comment explicitly on this drawing, in his lectures on sculpture in 1870 he noted how Santa Maria della Rosa, as well as Santa Maria della Spina in Pisa and the Madonna dei Miracoli in Venice, were the better for being small: 'the best buildings that I know are thus modest, and some of the best are minute jewel cases for sweet sculpture' (Aratra Pentelici, § 145 = XX.304). Ruskin was also concerned about the building's destruction by having its arches plastered up (Standard and Reference Series catalogue; cf. Library Edition, XXII.xxvi, where Ruskin is recorded as noting on 1 May 1872 that both Santa Maria della Rosa and Santa Maria della Spina had been 'destroyed').

    The statement in Cook and Wedderburn (XXI.33 n. 6) that all three of Bunney's Lucca drawings are 'dated January 1867' is incorrect.

  • Details

    John Wharlton Bunney (1828 - 1882)
    Object type
    Material and technique
    graphite on wove paper
    532 x 407 mm
    Associated place
    All in graphite.

    within the drawing, on the engraved plaque below the corner capital closest to the viewer: +AOI.ORE.DEI:ETBEA[T]E MARIE: | UIRG[IN]IS:DEROSA.HOC.OP[US].FAC|TU[M].EST.TPR+BIANCHI.BIEO | LCHI:LUPORO.UIUIARI:TRUCHO | RI.SPESIARUS+OPERAII.HUI | OPERIS.ANOM.CCC.UIIII+
    bottom left corner: 2
    bottom, to the right: Chapel of Santa Maria della Rosa Lucca Dec 66 - white marble.

    towards bottom right (recent): Ref 81 | 15-5-70 unmounted | Bunney
    just to the right, the Ruskin School's stamp

    Commissioned by John Ruskin in 1866; 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. 81

    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. 81


    • Western Art Print Room

Position in Ruskin’s Collection

Ruskin's Catalogues

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