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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Mezzotint of Reynolds's "Portrait of Lady Elizabeth Keppel adorning a Herm of Hymen" Edward Fisher

  • Curator’s description:

    Description

    Lady Keppel, a young woman, stands at the foot of a herm of Hymen, reaching up to adjust a garland of flowers looped around the herm's neck. Behind her, on the left, can be seen the upper half of a young black girl, who holds one end of another garland up towards Lady Keppel.

    Although any inscription on the print has been trimmed away, Cook and Wedderburn (XXI.26 n. 4) identify this as Edward Fisher's mezzotint after Reynolds's portrait of Lady Elizabeth Keppel, afterwards Marchioness of Tavistock, painted in 1761and preserved at Woburn Abbey. They note that she is shown wearing the dress she wore as one of Queen Charlotte's bridesmaids for the Queen's marriage to George III on 22 September 1761; the connection with marriage is strengthened by the fact that she is shown decorating a herm of Hymen, here depicted as blind. Reynolds exhibited the portrait in the annual Spring Gardens exhibition the following year.

    The print was first listed in the Teaching Collection in 1870, when it was included in the "Catalogue of Examples" as no. 43 of the Reference Series, a position it reatined in the 1872 catalogue of the series. The print formed part of a sequence of pictures by painters - all portrait-painters - who applied paint broadly, using the edges of the painted areas to denote outlines, rather than drawing them in with the point of the brush (Catalogue of Examples, p. 19). This picture, however, was also an indication of how the world had declined, becoming 'sad and proud, instead of happy and humble; - its domestic peace ... darkened by irreligion, its national action fevered by pride'. The fact that Reynolds had shown Hymen blind, and holding a coronet, indicated for Ruskin how this decline appeared even in concepts of love (Lectures on Art, § 183 = XX.172-173).

  • Details

    Artist/maker
    Edward Fisher (active 1772 - 1785) (engraver)
    after Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723 - 1792)
    Object type
    print
    Material and technique
    mezzotint on laid paper
    Dimensions
    591 x 363 mm (plate); 607 x 379 mm (sheet)
    Provenance

    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
    1
    Accession no.
    WA.RS.STD.043
  • Subject terms allocated by curators:

    Subjects

  • References in which this object is cited include:

    References

    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. Standard no. 43

    Ruskin, John, ‘Lectures on Art: Delivered Before the University of Oxford in Hilary Term, 1870’, Edward T. Cook and Alexander Wedderburn, eds, The Works of John Ruskin: Library Edition, 39 (London: George Allen, 1903-1912), 20

    Ruskin, John, Catalogue of the Reference Series Including Temporarily the First Section of the Standard Series (London: Smith, Elder, [1872]), cat. Standard no. 43

    Ruskin, John, Catalogue of Examples Arranged for Elementary Study in the University Galleries (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1870), cat. Standard no. 43

Location

    • Western Art Print Room

Position in Ruskin’s Collection

Ruskin's Catalogues

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