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 Frontispiece of the Liber Studiorum Turner

  • Details

    Turner (Joseph Mallord William Turner) (1775 - 1851) (designer, etcher)
    Object type
    Material and technique
    etching on paper
    210 x 292 mm (plate); 273 x 387 mm (sheet)
    bottom left in graphite: 2.d State
    bottom left, the Ruskin School's stamp
    just below, in ink: T.11

    Presumably presented by John Ruskin to the Ruskin Drawing School (University of Oxford); first recorded in the Ruskin Drawing School in 1878; 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, ‘Rudimentary Series 1878’, 1878, Oxford, Oxford University Archives, cat. Rudimentary no. 151

    Finberg, Alexander J., The History of Turner's Liber Studiorum: With a New Catalogue Raisonné (London: Ernest Benn, 1924), no. 01.E.II

    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. 151


    • Western Art Print Room

Ruskin's Catalogues

  • Ruskin's revision to the Rudimentary series (1878)


    Frontispiece Etching Begins the series of xxv examples chosen from the Liber Studorium, with the etching from the Frontispiece entirely by his own hand and showing, more clearly than the finished plate, the materials of which he meant the work to be composed. An epitome of what the xixth.. century had to meditate on; viz. Classical Architecture, fallen, Norman Architecture, standing, with Gothic above it, confusion of Rustic or familiar objects surrounding these, and a Picture in the centre into which all these are supposed to be combined as the End of their existence - the whole signed and symbolised, as it were, by the Peacock in its character of Phoenix, or Resuscitation. In this accumulation of object it is interesting to trace what were the most important materials in Turner’s own mind; but it is not easy to understand the meaning of the caduceus of Hermes in the group of dock-leaves and thistles, nor why so great importance should be attached to Fish, while we have only one Bird and no Beasts. The etching is all by Turner’s own hand, and in his finest manner. The subject of the central Picture The rape of Europa, the mast and yard of the lateral sail antique .

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