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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Print of the Decoration on a Greek Oenochoe, showing Artemis Kaeppelin et Compagnie

  • Curator’s description:


    The lithograph shows Artemis, holding a lyre, with a fawn walking behind her. It reproduces the decoration of a black-figure oenochoe, then in the Beugnot collection. It was plate VII in the second volume of Lenormant and de Witte's "Elite des monuments céramographiques", published in 1857. It was presumably taken from Ruskin's copy of the work now preserved in the Ruskin Library (inventory no. 1996B2621), which is missing many of its plates.

    The print was first catalogued by Ruskin in 1870, as no. 206 in the Standard Series, framed with another print from Lenormant and de Witte of a red-figure illustration of Artemis with Apollo and a young woman; they formed part of a series 'arranged chiefly with the view of showing the change in Greek conception of deity'. It retained its number in the 1871 catalogue of the Standard and Reference Series but, by the time Cook and Wedderburn were compiling their edition of the catalogues (published in 1906), the frame had been moved to no. 188. Cook and Wedderburn note (XXI.45 n. 1) that it carried its original number (206) on the edge of its frame, but the new number (188) on the face. Presumably, it was easier to engrave and attach a new ivory label on the edge of the frame than it was to remove or gild over the painted number on the face.

    According to Ruskin, the change in the ancient Greek conception of deity took place between the sixth and fourth centuries BC, and was marked by a development from conceiving of the gods as embodiments of physical forces to individual, characterised intelligences; from active to passive figures; and from grotesque to deliberately-selected beautiful depictions. At the same time, ceramic decoration changed from painting black figures on the red ground to painting a black background, letting the red ground show through in the figures themselves - though this soon led to careless execution. He believed the best vases were red-figure vases produced just after the transition (Catalogue of Examples, pp. 25-27; Standard and Reference catalogue, pp. 28-30).

    Ruskin described the print as showing 'Artemis, as the moon of morning': discussing the frame in his lecture on "Light" on 16 March 1870, Ruskin described her 'walking low on the hills, and singing to her lyre; the fawn beside her, with the gleam of light and sunrise on its ear and breast. Those of you who are often out in the dawn-time know that there is no moon so glorious as that gleaming crescent, though in its wane, ascending before the sun' (Lectures on Art, § 154 = XX.148; the image was reproduced as figure 2 = XX.147). Ruskin also discussed the depiction of the light on the fawns' breasts in the upper images in Reference Series nos 187, 188 and 189: he suggested that it might express 'the direction of the light, when that direction is important'. He believed that the fawn symbolised 'wavering and glancing motion on the ground, as well as of the light and shadow through the leaves, chequering the ground as the fawn is dappled'. (Lectures on Art, §§ 155-156 = XX.148-149.)

    Ruskin's inscription and drawings in the upper margin suggest that he was trying to differentiate between Artemis's hair and head-dress, and relate them to the evolution of Greek helmets.

  • Details

    Kaeppelin et Compagnie (active c. 1839 - c. 1860) (printer)
    A. Rey (active c. 1844 - c. 1858) (lithographer)
    Object type
    Material and technique
    watercolour and bodycolour over lithograph on wove paper
    165 x 129 mm (stone); 351 x 228 mm (sheet)
    Recto, all printed, around the image:
    top left: T.II.
    top right: PL. VII.
    bottom left: Lith. de Kaeppelin et Cie.
    bottom right: A. Rey, sc.

    Recto, all manuscript, in ink:
    top left: a.
    top centre, between drawings of Artemis's hat, and a version of her head without the hat: Cap with crest? or is the portion a. back hair? | Note form of ear, giving rise to helmet | the hair being simple
    just below, to the left: Diana . A 1
    just above the top left corner of the image: R

    top right, in ink: 7
    lower centre, the Ruskin School's stamp

    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. 206

    Lenormant, Charles, and Jean de Witte, Elite des monuments céramographiques: Matériaux pour l'histoire des religions et des moeurs de l'antiquité, 4 vols in 8 (Paris: Leleux, 1844-1861), vol. II, pl. VII

    Ruskin, John, Catalogue of the Reference Series Including Temporarily the First Section of the Standard Series (London: Smith, Elder, [1872]), cat. Reference no. 206

    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. 188

    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, figure 2 = XX.147


    • Western Art Print Room

Position in Ruskin’s Collection

Ruskin's Catalogues

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