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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Part of the Façade of the destroyed Church of San Michele in Foro, Lucca, as it appeared in 1845 John Ruskin

  • Ruskin text

    35 D Part of the façade of the destroyed church of San Michele at Lucca, as it appeared in 1845. M
  • Details

    Artist/maker
    John Ruskin (1819 - 1900)
    Object type
    drawing
    Material and technique
    watercolour and bodycolour over graphite on grey wove paper
    Dimensions
    330 x 233 mm
    Associated place
    Inscription
    Recto:
    below the left-hand detail of a column, in graphite: [...] | [...] | across
    below the two right-hand details of columns, in graphite: bottom [...] | like f[...]
    just below both inscriptions, in graphite: Five arches below | small one at each | 4 middle [...] | pairs & one in | middle _ all [...] | only
    labelled down the left-hand side of the main image, in graphite, 'P' and 'P'
    labelled down the right-hand side of the main image, in graphite, 'P', 'A', 'C', 'S', 'B' and 'P'
    bottom right, in ink: San Michele . Lucca | 1845. JR.

    Verso, 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.083
  • Subject terms allocated by curators:

    Subjects

  • References in which this object is cited include:

    References

    Penny, Nicholas, Ruskin's Drawings, Ashmolean - Christie's Handbooks (London: Phaidon, 1988), no. 24

    Ruskin, John, Catalogue of the Educational Series (London: Smith, Elder, 1871), cat. Educational no. 35.D

    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. 83

    Ruskin, John, Catalogue of the Educational Series (London: Spottiswoode, 1874), cat. Educational no. 83

    Taylor, Gerald, ‘John Ruskin: A Catalogue of Drawings by John Ruskin in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford’, 7 fascicles, 1998, Oxford, Ashmolean Museum, no. 020

Location

    • currently in research collection

Position in Ruskin’s Collection

Ruskin's Catalogues

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