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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Print of the Decoration on a Greek Hydria, showing Scylla P. Bineteau

  • Ruskin text

    128 Scylla. (Le Normand, III. 36). E
  • Curator’s description:

    Description

    The lithograph is arranged in two tiers. The upper section shows Scylla, with a woman's upper body and a fish's fins and tail. A strand of stylised leaves hangs above her, a small fish swims beside her, a dragon's head appears behind her, and she holds an octopus in one outstretched hand. Below is a small depiction of the whole hydria, turned to show the head which is depicted behind Scylla's tail. The print reproduces the decoration of a yellow- and white-figure hydria in the British Museum. It was plate XXXVI in the third volume of Lenormant and de Witte's "Elite des monuments céramographiques", published in 1858. 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 1871, when it appeared as no. 128 in the Educational Series, placed in Case VIII, "Elementary Zoology". It remained in the same position, although renumbered as no. 178, in the 1874 catalogue of the series, but does not appear in Ruskin's 1878 reorganisation of the series.

  • Details

    Artist/maker
    P. Bineteau (active c. 1857 - c. 1858) (printer)
    I. Petet (active c. 1858) (lithographer)
    Object type
    print
    Material and technique
    watercolour and bodycolour over lithograph on wove paper
    Dimensions
    221 x 247 mm (stone); 256 x 348 mm (sheet)
    Inscription
    All printed, just outside the border of the image:
    top left: T. III.
    top right: PL. XXXVI.
    bottom left: Lith. de P. Bineteau
    bottom right: I. Petet, sc.

    On a small paper label in ink but struck through many times in graphite: 128

    On another small paper label, in graphite 1/78
    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.178
  • Subject terms allocated by curators:

    Subjects

  • References in which this object is cited include:

    References

    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. 178

    Ruskin, John, Catalogue of the Educational Series (London: Smith, Elder, 1871), cat. Educational no. 128

    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. III, pl. XXXVI

    Ruskin, John, Catalogue of the Educational Series (London: Spottiswoode, 1874), cat. Educational no. 178

Location

    • Western Art Print Room

Position in Ruskin’s Collection

Ruskin's Catalogues

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