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

Show search help

Search Help

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.

Reference URL


Send e-mail

Contact us about this object

Send e-mail

Send to a friend

The Upper Storey of the Loggia del Consiglio, Verona Stephen Thompson

  • Ruskin text

    46 Upper Story of Senate House, Verona. ( Fra Giocondo ). P
  • Curator’s description:


    The photograph shows all save the right-hand bay of the upper storey of the Loggia del Consiglio in Verona, built in 1493 and attributed to Fra Giocondo, and usually referred to by Ruskin as the 'Senate House'. A relief of the Annunciation, in two parts, flanks the central pilaster, and the window pediments contain reliefs of winged mermaids and gryphons. Statues of saints stand on the roof-line. The inlaid marble panels which flank the windows are clearly pockmarked with bullet-holes, which were removed in 1873. The overall arrangement of the building is clearly visible in Rudimentary Series no. 102, a photograph of the entire building. Ruskin also included a drawing of the right-hand bay-and-a-half by Bunney in the Working Series (see his entry for no. 102 in the manuscript revision of the Rudimentary Series).

    The photograph must have been taken before Ruskin listed the drawing in the first catalogue devoted solely to the Educational Series in 1871, where it appeared as no. 46 in Case IV, "Illustrations of Italian Gothic, with its resultant Art", alongside other Italian works of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. It remained in the same position, albeit renumbered as no. 96, in the 1874 catalogue of the series; but it is not mentioned in Ruskin's 1878 reorganisation.

    Ruskin considered the building one of the noblest examples of early Renaissance architecture, which looked back to Byzantine models. In a note added to volume III of "The Stones of Venice" in 1881, he described how 'the noblest example of it, Fra Giocondo's exquisite loggia, has been daubed and damned by the modern restorer, into a caricature worse than a Christmas clown's. The exquisite colour of the Renaissance fresco, pure as rose-leaves and dark laurel - the modern Italian decorator thinks "sporco [dirty]," and replaces by buff-colour oil-cloth and Prussian green - spluttering his gold about wherever the devil prompts him, to enrich the whole.' (Stones of Venice, vol. III, ch. i, § 23 n.=XI.20 n.). Similarly, a footnote added to "Ariadne Florentina", he described how 'The admirable drawings of Venice, by my good assistant, Mr. Bunney, resident there, will become of more value to their purchasers every year, as the buildings from which they are made are destroyed. I was but just in time, working with him at Verona, to catch record of Fra Giocondo's work in the smaller square; the most beautiful Renaissance design in North Italy.' (Ariadne Florentina, § 245 = XXII.476.)

  • Details

    Stephen Thompson (active 19th century) (photographer)
    Object type
    Material and technique
    albumen print
    238 x 285 mm (print); 290 x 379 mm (mount)
    Associated place
    Recto, within the photograph, scratched onto the negative and so printed dark, bottom right (partly cropped at the bottom): S. Thompson

    On the mount, verso, top left, tilted onto its left side, the Ruskin School's stamp

    On an accompanying card label, in ink: 44

    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 the Educational Series (London: Spottiswoode, 1874), cat. Educational no. 96

    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. 96

    Ruskin, John, Catalogue of the Educational Series (London: Smith, Elder, 1871), cat. Educational no. 46


    • Western Art Print Room

Position in Ruskin’s Collection

Ruskin's Catalogues

© 2013 University of Oxford - Ashmolean Museum