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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Photograph of Dürer's "Greater Celandine" anonymous Austrian

  • Ruskin text

    256. Study of the wild carrot. (Photograph from Dürer’s drawing.)

    I do not know if the original is in colour or not; probably in colour. But, as translated for us into brown, it is equally exemplary. You cannot copy it too carefully or too often.

  • Details

    Artist/maker
    anonymous Austrian (photographer)
    after Albrecht Dürer (1471 - 1528)
    Object type
    photograph
    Material and technique
    albumen print
    Dimensions
    274 x 142 mm (print); 474 x 315 mm (mount)
    Inscription
    On the front of the mount:
    printed, within a cartouche: ALBRECHT DÜRER
    lower right, in graphite (recent): E. 256 | Photo | also 5 E on verso

    On the back of the mount:
    top right, in graphite, underlined, and struck through in graphite: Wood frame
    top centre, in graphite and struck through in graphite: 32
    bottom 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.256
  • 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. 256

    Ruskin, John, Catalogue of the Educational Series (London: Spottiswoode, 1874), cat. Educational no. 256

    Ruskin, John, Catalogue of Examples Arranged for Elementary Study in the University Galleries (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1870), cat. Educational no. 32

    Ruskin, John, Catalogue of the Educational Series (London: Smith, Elder, 1871), cat. Educational no. XI.5.E

Location

    • Western Art Print Room

Position in Ruskin’s Collection

Ruskin's Catalogues

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