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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The Courtyard of a Late Gothic Wooden House at Abbeville John Ruskin

  • Ruskin text

    30 H Wooden domestic Architecture. Late Gothic, at Abbeville. P
  • Details

    Artist/maker
    John Ruskin (1819 - 1900) (photographer)
    Object type
    photograph
    Material and technique
    albumen print
    Dimensions
    223 x 173 mm (print); 237 x 188 mm (mount)
    Associated place
    Inscription
    On the back of the mount, centre, 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.062
  • Subject terms allocated by curators:

    Subjects

  • References in which this object is cited include:

    References

    Ruskin, John, ‘Rudimentary Series 1878’, 1878, Oxford, Oxford University Archives, cat. Rudimentary no. 289

    Ruskin, John, Catalogue of the Educational Series (London: Smith, Elder, 1871), cat. Educational no. 30.H

    Ruskin, John, Catalogue of the Educational Series (London: Spottiswoode, 1874), cat. Educational no. 62

    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. 62

Location

    • Western Art Print Room

Position in Ruskin’s Collection

Ruskin's Catalogues

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

    30 H Wooden domestic Architecture. Late Gothic, at Abbeville. P
  • Ruskin's Educational series, 2nd ed. (1874)

    62. Wooden domestic Architecture. Late Gothic, at Abbeville. P
  • Ruskin's revision to the Rudimentary series (1878)

    Edu. 62 289.

    The group through which we have passed gives examples only of Foliage seen close at hand, such as the great Masters associate with Figures of the life-size. We now begin the study of Effects of Foliage diminished in distance, and which therefore cannot be completed in the Methods hitherto exhibited. I take, therefore, an actual group of leaves, vine, seen in this Photograph at a distance of about twenty-five feet, and therefore necessarily losing, if proR. perly represented, all clear lines of organization. Though the Photograph exaggerates the shadows, it gives us in other respects accurately the conditions of Mystery required at such distance; which, generally speaking, will be that of an ordinary Landscape-foreground. I take the group here shown in association with French Sculpture that the student may learn the qualities of good Painting and Sculpture at once. When he has learned to draw these leaves as the Photograph represents them, he will know how to admire the imaged leaves carved at the side of them.

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