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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A Leaf from the Book of Hours of Yolande of Navarre Jehan Pucelle

  • Curator’s description:


    Recto as mounted (in fact the verso): The text is written in alternating lines of blue and gold. Christ appears to a figure kneeling at a prie-dieu in a three-line initial 'L'; there are also single-line illuminated initials 'A' and 'N'. Two line-endings contain patterns, one of vine-stems and the other geometric. The border comprises bars of burnished gold, with stems of blue and pink ivy which grow into leaves of blue, red and gold.

    Verso as mounted (in fact the recto): The text is written in alternating lines of gold and blue. There are three single-line illuminated initials, 'C', 'G' and 'S'. Three line-endings are filled with geometric patterns. In the bottom right corner of the margin a woman in ragged clothes, holding a bowl, rides on the shoulders of a figure with a human head, which appears to carry a baby in a sling; the figure's right arm reaches down to grasp the hand of a raggedly-dressed man, also clutching a bowl. The border comprises bars of burnished gold, with stems of blue and pink ivy which grow into leaves of blue, red and gold.

    One of thirteen leaves from the Hours of Yolande of Navarre. This leaf is number 71 a, containing the beginning of psalm 120, from terce; it was originally located between folios 71 and 71 b in the manuscript (the latter is also in Oxford, now numbered Y.7).

    The Hours of Yolande of Navarre are a Book of Hours of the use of Paris, created c.1353 and belonging to Yolande of Navarre (1326-1395), the widow of Henri IV, Duc de Bar, and of Philippe de Navarre, Comte de Longueville; they bear her arms of Flanders (or, a lion rampant sable armed gules within a bordure engrailed of the last) impaled with those of Philippe (in chief Navarre: gules, a cross, saltire and double orle of chains all linked together, or; in base Longueville: France ancient, a bend compony of ermine and gules). The manuscript (together with the Psalter and Hours of Isabelle of France, also in the Teaching Collection) was damaged when in the collection of John Boykett Jarman when his home in Grosvenor Street, Mayfair, was flooded on 1 August 1846 (not c.1854 as described by Ruskin). It was presumably still dismembered following its immersion when it was acquired by Ruskin, although Backhouse notes that Jarman may well have employed William Charles Wing (active 1835-1860) to repair and, in some cases, retouch his damaged manuscripts. Ruskin described the manuscript as 'in my own possession' in volume III of "Modern Painters", published in 1856 (vol. III, ch. xiv, § 27 = V.267). On 15 December 1872, Ruskin entered it as no. 6, 'Yolande', valued at £100, in a list of the manuscripts in his Oxford rooms which he compiled for insurance purposes (Bembridge MS 18, p. 129). Out of 176 leaves, Ruskin placed 13 in the Drawing School (none of them containing full-page miniatures), and gave 24 others away; the remainder of the manuscript was acquired by Henry Yates Thompson in 1902 and entered his collection as MS no. LXXXVI (to which was added 10 of the detached leaves, obtained from Miss Bradford, in 1910). It is now Yates Thompson MS 27 in the British Library.

    The illumination was given by Cockerell to the third hand he identified in the Hours of Jeanne II, Queen of Navarre (Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, nouv. acq. lat. 3145), who he postulated might be the Parisian illuminator Jehan Pucelle. However, Pucelle seems to have been dead by 1334, although the manuscript may well be attributable to one of his collaborators or followers.

    Pages from the manuscript are first listed in the Teaching Collection in 1878, when Ruskin included one unidentified leaf from the book in his rearrangement of the Rudimentary Series, as no. 12. It was accompanied by a copy he had made of the folio and a water-colour of a spray of myrtle (both in frame no. 11, the copy later moved to no. 172 in the Supplementary Cabinet), 'in order to show the difference between illumination and painting'. The thirteen leaves catalogued here were first listed in the collection by Cook and Wedderburn in 1906, amongst the unframed items. As these were un-numbered, the individual folios have been given arbitrary numbers based upon the numbers marked on their back for the purposes of this catalogue.

    A page from the manuscript (although not one of those in the Oxford collections) was reproduced as pl. 9 in vol. III of Modern Painters (= vol. V, f.p. 267), as an illustration of 'Botany of the 14th Century': Ruskin considered it one of 'the most graceful examples I have ever seen of the favourite decoration at the period, commonly known as the "Ivy-leaf" pattern' (vol. III, ch. xiv, § 27 = V.267).

  • Details

    follower of Jehan Pucelle (active c. 1319 - d.c. 1334)
    Object type
    manuscript, drawing
    Material and technique
    watercolour, bodycolour, ink, gold paint and gold leaf on parchment
    113 x 78 mm (approx.)
    On the back of the sheet of paper to which the leaf has been attached:
    bottom, towards left, in pale grey ink, smudged: Y.6
    just above and to the left, the Ruskin School's stamp

    On the back of the matte:
    top centre, black or brown chalk, in large letters: 51
    just below the leaf, centre, in graphite: verso
    just below, the Ruskin School's stamp
    just to the right, the Ruskin School's stamp (again)
    just below the right-hand stamp, in ink: Y.6
    bottom right, in graphite, upside down: 6

    Presumably commissioned by Yolande of Navarre, 1353 or later; possibly seized by Charles V, King of France, in 1372; certainly Charles V by 1380; John Bowkett Jarman, by 1846; John Ruskin by 1856; presumably presented by John Ruskin to the Ruskin Drawing School (University of Oxford); first recorded in the Ruskin Drawing School in 1906; placed on deposit in the Bodleian Library by the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art

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


  • References in which this object is cited include:


    Backhouse, Janet, ‘A Victorian Connoisseur and His Manuscripts: The Tale of Mr. Jarman and Mr. Wing’, British Museum Quarterly, 32, (1967-1968)

    Cockerell, S. C., The Book of Hours of Yolande of Flanders: A Manuscript of the Fourteenth Century in the Library of Henry Yates Thompson (London: Chiswick Press, 1905)

    Dearden, James S., ‘John Ruskin, the Collector: With a Catalogue of the Illuminated and Other Manuscripts Formerly in His Collection’, The Library, 5th ser., 21, (1966), no. 40

    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. Unframed


    • Bodleian Library, Oxford

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