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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Growing Shoot of Mock Privet (Phillyrea), seen in Profile John Ruskin

  • Ruskin text

    6 C Growing shoot of Phillyrea.Seen in profile. M
  • Curator’s description:


    The drawing shows a shoot of phillyrea. It is dated to 1867 by Ruskin; Taylor places it in the period from 26 March to 5 September that year, when Ruskin was at work on botanical research and drawing.

    The drawing first appears in the Teaching Collection as no. 6 C in Case XI of the Educational Series, devoted to "Foliage", in the 1871 catalogue of the series; it remained in the same position, albeit renumbered as no. 267, in the 1874 catalogue, but is not mentioned in Ruskin's 1878 reorganisation of the series.

    Ruskin referred to the drawing in his fifth lecture on the elementary principles of sculpture, on "Structure", on 3 December 1870, when he emphasised the importance of an ability to draw natural forms for sculptors, stone-masons and architects. In the published version of the lectures, "Aratra Pentelici", he reproduced the drawing, together with a drawing of the shoot's outline, as an example of the work of which modern sculptors were incapable, but which a Florentine sculptor might achieve in relief only an eighth of an inch deep (Aratra Pentelici, § 177 = XX.325-326; see fig. 15 on p. 325 and pl. XIII, f.p. 325). He placed a copy of the engraving from "Aratra Pentelici", by George Allen, in the Rudimentary Series as no. 292.

  • Details

    John Ruskin (1819 - 1900)
    Object type
    Material and technique
    watercolour and bodycolour over ink on wove paper
    94 x 200 mm
    In watercolour, bottom left: J. Ruskin . 1867

    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:


    Taylor, Gerald, ‘John Ruskin: A Catalogue of Drawings by John Ruskin in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford’, 7 fascicles, 1998, Oxford, Ashmolean Museum, no. 096

    Ruskin, John, Catalogue of the Educational Series (London: Smith, Elder, 1871), cat. Educational no. XI.6.C

    Ruskin, John, Catalogue of the Educational Series (London: Spottiswoode, 1874), cat. Educational no. 267

    Ruskin, John, ‘Aratra Pentelici: Six Lectures on the Elements of Sculpture, Given Before the University of Oxford in Michaelmas Term, 1870’, Edward T. Cook and Alexander Widderburn, eds, The Works of John Ruskin: Library Edition, 39 (London: George Allen, 1903-1912), 20, pl. XIII, f.p. 325

    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. 267


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Ruskin's Catalogues

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