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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Morning in Spring, with north-east Wind, at Vevey John Ruskin

  • Ruskin text

    and morning in spring, with north-east wind, at Vevay.
  • Curator’s description:


    A view across the rippling waters of Lake Geneva towards the north-east, with trees and the buildings of Vevey silhouetted on the far bank and the purple forms of the Molard and Dent de Lys beyond. Above the mountains, to the centre, white clouds streak the sky, whilst a bank of mist shrouds the lower slopes of the mounatins.

    Ruskin stayed at Vevey on several occasions, and there is consequently some dispute as to when this drawing was created. Penny suggests Ruskin's Swiss tour of 1849, when Ruskin was in Vevey in May and early June and made a series of Alpine studies inspired by Turner, proposing that it may have been executed as one of a number of studies of clouds which were intended for the third volume of "Modern Painters". Taylor, however, favours Ruskin's stop at Vevey on 1 May 1869: he had stayed at Neuchâtel the previous day, when Taylor suggests that the drawing of "Afternoon in Spring, with south Wind, at Neuchâtel", which was framed with this drawing, was made, proposing that the two drawings were done within a short space of time of each other.

    The drawing was first catalogued in the Drawing School in 1871, as no. 8 I in Case XII of the Educational Series, which was devoted to 'Rocks, Water, and Clouds'. Although renumbered, as 298, it remained in the same place in the 1874 catalogue of the series.

  • Details

    John Ruskin (1819 - 1900)
    Object type
    Material and technique
    watercolour and bodycolour over graphite on pale grey wove paper
    177 x 264 mm
    Associated place

    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, ‘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. V, pl. A, f.p. xviii

    Ruskin, John, Catalogue of the Educational Series (London: Smith, Elder, 1871), cat. Educational no. XII.8.I

    Penny, Nicholas, Ruskin's Drawings, Ashmolean - Christie's Handbooks (London: Phaidon, 1988), no. 5

    Taylor, Gerald, ‘John Ruskin: A Catalogue of Drawings by John Ruskin in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford’, 7 fascicles, 1998, Oxford, Ashmolean Museum, no. 106

    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. 298

    Ruskin, John, Catalogue of the Educational Series (London: Spottiswoode, 1874), cat. Educational no. 298


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Position in Ruskin’s Collection

Ruskin's Catalogues

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