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 Portraits of Pharaohs and Members of their Families Anonymous Italian

  • Curator’s description:


    In the "Catalogue of Examples", Ruskin listed amongst the Educational Series '15. "Egyptian head-dress." B, C, &c., the same. See for these and No. 16, Rosellini, tom. i. plates 7, 10, and 22'. Cook and Wedderburn (XXI.61) identify no. 15 with Rosellini's plate 7, no. 15 B with plate 10 and no. 15 C with plate 22. However, the number of subsequent frames covered by Ruskin's '&c.', or the plates from Rosellini which they contained, remains unclear. It is likely that the plates were drawn from nos I-XV and XX-XXIII, all of which contain details of heads and shoulders like those in the identifiable frames.

    These form part of a series representing the kings and queens of ancient Egypt, and are taken from the first volume of plates from Ippolito Rosellini's "Monumenti dell' Egitto e della Nubia", published in 1832. They were first catalogued by Ruskin in the "Catalogue of Examples" of 1870 (see above). However, they did not reappear in any of his subsequent catalogues, and so were not part of the collection transferred to the University in the Deed of Gift of 31 May 1875.

    In a note in "The Ethics of the Dust", explaining how the individual aspects of the Egyptian deities were still largely unknown, Ruskin was somewhat sceptical of Rosellini's qualities: 'for the full titles and utterances of the gods, Rosellini is as yet the only - and I believe, still a very questionable - authority' (Ethics of the Dust, note III = XVIII.363). In his entry below nos 176-180 in the Reference Series, Ruskin again questioned Rosellini's accuracy, noting that the colours were sometimes conjectural, 'slight traces of the original pigments, and those changed by time, being interpreted often too arbitrarily' (Standard and Reference Series catalogue, p. 22).

  • Details

    Anonymous Italian (Anonymous, Italian) (artist, engraver)
    Object type
    Material and technique
    engraving on wove paper
    [520 x 700 mm (approx.)]

    Recorded in the Ruskin Drawing School (University of Oxford), in 1870; not recorded in the collection subsequently.

    No. of items
    Accession no.
  • Subject terms allocated by curators:


  • References in which this object is cited include:


    Ruskin, John, Catalogue of Examples Arranged for Elementary Study in the University Galleries (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1870), cat. Educational no. 15.etc.

    Rosellini, Ippolito, I monumenti dell' Egitto e della Nubia: Disegnati dalla spedizione scientifico-letteraria toscana in Egitto: distributi in ordine di materie, 12 (Pisa: Presso N. Capurro, 1832-1844), pt I, Tavole, pls I-XV & XX-XXIII

    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


    • not found

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