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 a Relief of the Battle of Qadesh in the Great Hall of the Temple at Abu Simbel Giuseppe Angelelli

  • Curator’s description:


    The engraving shows an expansive scene filled with many incidents, broadly arranged in two registers. On the top, a pharaoh in a chariot attacks a city situated in a river, surrounded by more chariots and soldiers; on the bottom, from the left, an army of chariots and footsoldiers is drawn up in ranks, and then shown encamped; an enthroned pharaoh is shown is shown receiving suppliants; and a battle occurs on the right edge. The event is the Battle of Qadesh; the pharaoh is Ramesses II (c.1187-c.1156 BC), and the relief occupies an entire wall of the Great Hall of the Temple at Abu Simbel (Porter & Moss, "Topographical Bibliography", 2nd ed, Oxford (Clarendon Press & Griffith Institute): 1960-1999, vol. VII, pp. 103-104).

    The print is taken from the first volume of plates from Ippolito Rosellini's "Monumenti dell' Egitto e della Nubia", published in 1832. It was first catalogued by Ruskin in the "Catalogue of Examples" of 1870, as no. 103 in the Standard Series; in the 1872 catalogue of the Standard and Reference Series, it was renumbered as no. 178 in the Reference Series. It was placed alongside other plates from Rosellini, including a detail of the scene of Ramesses receiving supplicants at no. 176.

    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

    Giuseppe Angelelli (1803 - 1849)
    Giuseppe Rossi (1742 - 1842) (engraver)
    Object type
    Material and technique
    engraving on wove paper
    191 x 578 mm (stone); 409 x 660 mm (sheet)
    Associated place
    Recto, engraved:
    top left (cut away in this example): M.R.
    top right: No. LXXXVII
    just below the image, left: A.
    just below the image, right: G. Rossi. scul.

    Recto, manuscript:
    upper left, in graphite: cut in half 88, 89
    right, centre, in graphite, same hand: pl. 95
    bottom, right of centre, written down the print, in graphite, same hand: pl. 101
    bottom right corner, written down the print, in blue pencil, different hand: Encampment | Rames[es] | [?]

    Verso, bottom centre, the Ruskin School's stamp

    On a small separate paper label, in ink: 103
    On a larger separate paper label, in graphite: was | 103 G A

    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 Examples Arranged for Elementary Study in the University Galleries (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1870), cat. Standard no. 103

    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, pl. LXXXVII

    Ruskin, John, Catalogue of the Reference Series Including Temporarily the First Section of the Standard Series (London: Smith, Elder, [1872]), cat. Reference no. 178

    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. 178


    • Western Art Print Room

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