The Elements of Drawing, John Ruskin’s teaching collection at Oxford

The Elements of Drawing, John Ruskin’s teaching collection at Oxford

Ruskin's Educational series, 1st ed. (1871)

Ruskin's first catalogue of 300 works for the instruction of undergraduates and his notes on the use of particular examples.

Educational 1 cover

Ruskin's Catalogues: 1 object

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Ruskin assembled a diverse collection of artworks for his drawing school in Oxford, including watercolours by J.M.W. Turner and drawings by Ruskin himself.  He taught students to draw as a way of educating them in how to look at art and the world around them.  

Ruskin divided his Teaching Collection into four main series: Standard, Reference, Educational and Rudimentary. Each item was placed in a numbered frame, arranged in a set of cabinets, so that they all had a specific position in the Collection (although Ruskin often moved items about as his ideas changed). 

When incorporated into the Ashmolean’s collection in the last century, the works were removed from the frames and the sequence was lost.  Here, Ruskin's original catalogues, notes and instructions - in his chosen order and in his own words - are united with images of the works and links to modern curatorial descriptions.

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Rough Sketch of the Caryatid from the Erechtheion now in the British Museum John Ruskin

  • Ruskin text

    22 C Rough sketch of the sixth Cora of the Pandroseium, now in the British Museum. M
  • Curator’s description:

    Description

    The drawing shows a rather worn caryatid from the hips up; her head is done in finer detail than the rest of the drawing.

    The drawing is of the single caryatid from the Erechtheion, part of the Acropolis in Athens, in the collections of the British Museum, carved c.420 (the remaining caryatids are in Athens). It was originally placed on the main front of the Erechtheion's caryatid porch (the south porch), where it was the second figure from the left.

    Cook and Wedderburn and Taylor both state that this drawing is the one which accompanied Ruskin's letter to Henry Acland in the autumn of 1864. However, there is no evidence as to whether Ruskin returned the drawing to Acland or not (for the letter, XVIII.xxxv).

    The drawing was first listed in the collection in 1871, as no. 22 C in the Educational Series, part of Case II, "Elementary Illustrations of Greek Design", and entitled "Rough Sketch of the Sixth Cora of the Pandroseium [sic], now in the British Museum". It remained in the same position, albeit renumbered as no. 36, in the 1874 catalogue of the series; and was not mentioned in Ruskin's 1878 reorganisation of the series. Ruskin's use of the name 'Pandroseion' for part of the Erechtheion is at odds with modern usage, which calls the whole complex the Erechtheion.

  • Details

    Artist/maker
    John Ruskin (1819 - 1900)
    after anonymous Greek (sculptor)
    Object type
    drawing
    Material and technique
    watercolour and bodycolour over graphite on off-white paper
    Dimensions
    473 x 297 mm
    Associated place
    Inscription
    Verso:
    top left corner, in graphite: P22
    top, centre, in graphite: E36
    bottom right, the Ruskin School's stamp
    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.ED.036
  • Subject terms allocated by curators:

    Subjects

  • References in which this object is cited include:

    References

    Taylor, Gerald, ‘John Ruskin: A Catalogue of Drawings by John Ruskin in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford’, 7 fascicles, 1998, Oxford, Ashmolean Museum, no. 088

    Ruskin, John, Catalogue of the Educational Series (London: Spottiswoode, 1874), cat. Educational no. 36

    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. Educational no. 36

    Ruskin, John, Catalogue of the Educational Series (London: Smith, Elder, 1871), cat. Educational no. 22.C

Location

    • Western Art Print Room

Position in Ruskin’s Collection

Ruskin's Catalogues

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