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

Autumnal Cloud filling the Valley of Geneva, the Jura rising out of it, seen from the Brezon above Bonneville John Ruskin

  • Ruskin text

    8 H Autumnal cloud filling the valley of Geneva, the Jura rising out of it; seen from the Brezon above Bonneville. M
  • Curator’s description:


    The view looks down from the rocky slope of the Pointe d'Andey over mist swirling around the valley of Geneva, with the mountains of the Jura silhouetted in the distance.

    Although Ruskin visted the area frequently, Taylor points to a letter which he wrote on 28 December 1862, ecstatically describing the view from the Saleve across the Valley of Geneva (XXXVI.428). Taylor also compares the style of this drawing with another view from the Pointe d'Andey above Bonneville, dated to 1862, in the collection of the Ruskin Foundation ("Brezon, looking towards Geneva", Ruskin Library, 1996P1174). Bonneville is about 10 miles up the valley of the Arve from the house at Mornex, where Ruskin spent most of the autumn of 1862.

    The drawing was first catalogued in the Drawing School in 1871, as no. 8 H in Case XII of the Educational Series, which was devoted to 'Rocks, Water, and Clouds'. Although renumbered, as 297, it remained in the same place in the 1874 catalogue of the series.

    Taylor notes that Ruskin referred to the Pointe d'Andey as 'The Brezon', a name he adopted from that of the nearby village of Brizon. Ruskin considered building a permanent house near the mountain's summit, as he was so attracted by the views (see his letters of 7 April, 2, 14 and 26 May, and 14 September 1863 = XXXVI.440, 442, 444, 445, 453); however, he was opposed by the locals who assume, from watching him take gelogical samples, that Ruskin had discovered a valuable mineral deposit.

    REPR The Artist, July 1897

  • Details

    John Ruskin (1819 - 1900)
    Object type
    Material and technique
    watercolour over graphite
    119 x 237 mm
    Associated place
    bottom left corner, in graphite: E.297
    bottom left corner, in ink: 8.H.New
    centre, the Ruskin School's stamp

    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: Smith, Elder, 1871), cat. Educational no. XII.8.H

    Ruskin, John, ‘The Works of John Ruskin’, Edward T. Cook and Alexander Wedderburn, eds, The Works of John Ruskin: Library Edition, 39 (London: George Allen, 1903-1912), vol. XXI, pl. XXXV, f.p. 101

    Ruskin, John, Catalogue of the Educational Series (London: Spottiswoode, 1874), cat. Educational no. 297

    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. 297

    Taylor, Gerald, ‘John Ruskin: A Catalogue of Drawings by John Ruskin in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford’, 7 fascicles, 1998, Oxford, Ashmolean Museum, no. 086


    • Western Art Print Room

Position in Ruskin’s Collection

Ruskin's Catalogues

© 2013 University of Oxford - Ashmolean Museum