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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Enlarged Study of a Prawn's Rostrum John Ruskin

  • Ruskin text

    198. Rostrum of common Prawn, magnified.

    To show use of pencil and white for studies of organic form. It is nearly always necessary to make these on a larger scale than Nature’s, else it is impossible to express the refinements of structure: but they should not be drawn by help of a lens; they should be the easy expression on a large scale of the form, attentively observed by the naked eye, at the distance which the size of the object may render convenient.

  • Details

    Artist/maker
    John Ruskin (1819 - 1900)
    Object type
    drawing
    Material and technique
    bodycolour and graphite on pale brown wove paper
    Dimensions
    471 x 327 mm
    Inscription
    Verso:
    top, left of centre, in graphite, struck through in graphite: Edu 33 (Prawn)
    just below, in graphite, written within an oval: 189
    just to the right, in graphite: 33
    left, below 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.198
  • Subject terms allocated by curators:

    Subjects

  • References in which this object is cited include:

    References

    Ruskin, John, Catalogue of Examples Arranged for Elementary Study in the University Galleries (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1870), cat. Educational no. 33

    Taylor, Gerald, ‘John Ruskin: A Catalogue of Drawings by John Ruskin in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford’, 7 fascicles, 1998, Oxford, Ashmolean Museum, no. 137

    Ruskin, John, Catalogue of the Educational Series (London: Spottiswoode, 1874), cat. Educational no. 198

    Ruskin, John, Catalogue of the Educational Series (London: Smith, Elder, 1871), cat. Educational no. 148

    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. 198

Location

    • Western Art Print Room

Position in Ruskin’s Collection

Ruskin's Catalogues

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