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, 2nd ed. (1874)

Ruskin's revised catalogue of 300 works for the instruction of undergraduates and his notes on the use of particular examples.

Educational 2 cover

Ruskin's Catalogues: 32 objects

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Landscape with Cannon Albrecht Dürer

  • Ruskin text

    31 C The Cannon. View to the north from the ramparts of Nuremburg (the sea introduced conventionally). (Dürer). Engraving on copper, of peculiar execution with blunt line.
  • Curator’s description:


    The print shows a large cannon on a four-wheeled carriage, accompanied by two soldiers. A group of exotically-dressed soldiers stands on the right. Several buildings in the immediate background represent the outskirts of the village in the distance, which is a reversed view of Kirchehrenbach, near Forcheim in Franconia.

    Ruskin first catalogued the print in 1871, in the first edition of the Educational catalogue, where it was numbered 31 C, part of Case III, "Illustrations of Northern Gothic, with its resultant Art", alongside several other Dürers. By 1874 (Educational catalogue, 2nd ed.), the frame had moved to Case V, "Elementary Illustrations of Landscape", where it was numbered 121. Ruskin is correct in identifying the scene as an illustration of Dürer's, but misidentifies the location of the village: Kirchehrenbach is roughly 30 miles north of Nuremberg. He seems to have been unaware of Dürer's experiments in etching on iron plates, and so identified the technique as an engraving on copper 'of peculiar execution with blunt line'. He wrote about the peculiar blunt ends to the lines (in fact characteristic of etchings) when he was discussing the desirability of unvarying outlines in "The Cestus of Aglaia" (§ 19 = XIX.69-70). He also emphasised the precision and economy of Dürer's drawing of the head of the soldier on the right who is drawing his sword (ibid. § 64 = XIX.112-13). Another impression is in the collection of the Guild of Saint George (R.3556), although it is unclear how or when it entered the collection.

    This is not the copy of the print reproduced by Cook and Wedderburn in vol. XIX, pl. V, f.p. 113, which does not carry Esdaile's mark.

  • Details

    Albrecht Dürer (1471 - 1528) (etcher)
    Object type
    Material and technique
    iron-plate etching on laid paper
    222 x 328 mm (sheet and plate)
    Associated place
    In the print, engraved, top left: 1518 | AD [the 'AD' in Dürer's characteristic monogram]
    just below, in ink: WE [William Esdaile: Lugt 2617]

    centre, left, in graphite: 99 | 7-108 [the two lines separated by a horizontal line]
    bottom left, in ink (Esdaile): Bartsch V 7 P 108 N 99. | 1825 Th - WE N 210
    bottom, left of centre, in ink (Esdaile): The Iron print
    just above, in graphite: The canon [sic]
    bottom, just right of centre, in graphite: 5250
    to the right, in graphite (recent): RUSKIN | E121 | 5/5/0 on old mount
    bottom right, in graphite (unclear): brilliant | 1 flute | 4 of [?]
    top centre, in ink, upside down: [...] 1820 x 90

    William Esdaile; John Ruskin, by whom presented 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:


    Schoch, Rainer, Mende, Matthias, and Scherbaum, Anna, Albrecht Dürer: das druckgraphische Werk, 3 (Munich/London/New York: Prestel, 2001-2004), no. 85

    Meder, Josef, Dürer-Katalog, ein handbuch über Albrecht Dürers stiche, radierungen, Holzschnitte, deren zustände, ausgaben und wasserzeichen (Wien: Gilhofer & Ranschburg, 1932), no. 96

    Bartsch, Adam von, Le Peintre Graveur, 21 vols (Vienna: J. von Degen, 1803-1821), cat. vol. VII, p. 108, no. 99

    Ruskin, John, Catalogue of the Educational Series (London: Smith, Elder, 1871), cat. Educational no. 31.C

    Ruskin, John, Catalogue of the Educational Series (London: Spottiswoode, 1874), cat. Educational no. 121

    Hollstein, F. W. H., German Engravings Etchings and Woodcuts, ca. 1400 - 1700 (Amsterdam: Menno Hertzberger, 1954-), cat. vol. VII, p. 87, no. 96

    Bartsch, Adam von, The Illustrated Bartsch, founding editor Walter L. Strauss, general editor John T. Spike (New York: Abaris Books, 1978-), no. 1001.99

    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. 121

    Ruskin, John, ‘The Cestus of Aglaia’, Edward T. Cook and Alexander Wedderburn, eds, The Works of John Ruskin: Library Edition, 39 (London: George Allen, 1903-1912), 19


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Ruskin's Catalogues

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