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 a Drawing of the Head of a Young Man crowned with Oak Leaves by the Master of the Pala Sforzesca Charles Marville

  • Ruskin text

    3 G Head, with Crown of Oak-leaves. (Lionardo). P
  • Details

    Charles Marville (1816 - 1879) (photographer)
    after Master of the Pala Sforzesca (active late 15th century - early 16th century)
    Object type
    Material and technique
    albumen print
    205 x 143 mm (photograph); 299 x 197 mm (mount)
    Recto, within the photograph, on the drawing:
    top right: nc [Robert de Cotte: Lugt 1963]
    bottom left, cut off on the left, within an oval: ML [Musée du louvre: Lugt 1886]

    on the mount, bottom centre, blind stamped, a coat of arms bearing an eagle displayed and, below: CH MARVILLE | PHOTOGRAPHE | DU MUSÉE IMPERIAL | DU LOUVRE

    On the back of the mount, all in graphite:
    above centre: E. 233
    bottom, towards left (recent): Edu 233
    bottom 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. X.3.G

    Ruskin, John, Catalogue of the Educational Series (London: Spottiswoode, 1874), cat. Educational no. 233

    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. 233


    • Western Art Print Room

Position in Ruskin’s Collection

Ruskin's Catalogues

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