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: 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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Crustacea: Genus Cancer, Genus Dorippe, Genus Dormio Edward Donovan

  • Ruskin text

    190. Crabs. Another example. E
  • Details

    Edward Donovan (1768 - 1837)
    Object type
    Material and technique
    watercolour, bodycolour and ink on off-white wove paper
    352 x 263 mm
    On the drawing, recto, all in graphite:
    top centre: CRUSTACEA |Genus Cancer. - Genus Dorippe - Genus Dormio
    top left: [...] | 40
    top right: Pl.1.
    above and to the right of the upper left-hand crab: Dorippe Facchino
    below and to the right of the upper right-hand crab: Cancer fascicularis.
    above the centre crab: Cancer ruricola.
    to the left of the bottom crab: Dormio artip[...]
    bottom right: 9 3/4 by 12 1/4

    On the bottom mount, top left, written up the page, in graphite: 6.3/8 / 5

    On the back of the bottom mount, top right, the Ruskin School's stamp

    On a separate small paper label, in graphite: 140

    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: Spottiswoode, 1874), cat. Educational no. 190

    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. 190


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Ruskin's Catalogues

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