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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Engraving of Turner's "Kirby Lonsdale Churchyard" McQueen and Company

  • Ruskin text

    6 J Kirkby Lonsdale, Westmoreland . Line engraving from Turner. E
  • Details

    McQueen and Company (active c. 1822) (printer)
    Charles Heath (1785 - 1848) (engraver)
    after Turner (Joseph Mallord William Turner) (1775 - 1851)
    Object type
    Material and technique
    engraving on Chine collé
    377 mm wide (plate); 316 x 475 mm (support sheet)
    Associated people
    Hurst, Robinson and Company (active c. 1822 - c. 1823) (publisher)
    Longman & Co. (1804 - 1914) (publisher)
    Associated place
    Recto, all below the image, engraved:
    left: J.M.W. Turner R.A. delt.
    right: C. Heath sculpt.
    centre: Kirby _ Lonsdale Church Yard.. | Published by Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, & Brown, Paternoster Row, and Hurst, Robinson, & Co. Cheapside, London, Jany. 25th.1822.
    lower right: Printed by McQueen & Co.

    top left, in graphite: 46 E274
    top left, in ink, struck through: 6.K.J. [the 'K' having been struck through and replaced by the 'J']
    centre left, 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. XI.6.J

    Ruskin, John, Catalogue of the Educational Series (London: Spottiswoode, 1874), cat. Educational no. 274

    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. 274


    • Western Art Print Room

Position in Ruskin’s Collection

Ruskin's Catalogues

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