The Elements of Drawing, John Ruskin’s teaching collection at Oxford

The Elements of Drawing, John Ruskin’s teaching collection at Oxford

Ruskin's revision to the Rudimentary series (1878)

Unpublished manuscript catalogue for proposed re-organisation of the Rudimentary series.

Rudimentary manu Cover

Catalogue / 3rd Cabinet / 1st Section

  • unidentified - A Photograph of three Greek Ceramics, including a Patera showing Aphrodite riding a Swan 51.

    Criterion of Greek drawing of fine central period. The wings to be copied by all pupils, as soon as their hand is steady enough, as a free exercise with the brush.

  • R.
  • 52.
  • R.
  • Ruskin, John - A Study of Greek clay Cantharus remains 53.

    Rapid study of Greek cantharus‘cantharus’, to show the best method of drawing Greek vases. No more work ought ever to be put on a drawing of them than is used here. The skill of the draughtsman is to be shown in drawing the right curves with the edge of his wash, and in getting true chiaroscuro with little trouble. A thoroughly good artist would have got it with less work than is used here, but average students need not expect to do so.

  • R.
  • 54.
  • R.
  • Ruskin, John - Study of an Etruscan Cup remains 55.

    More careful drawing of a finer piece of pottery than 53. The care is in reality in the irregularities which seem careless, as in the uneven placing of the cup on its base. I should have liked, however, to finish this drawing a little more, but the textures it ought to have had may be sufficiently practised from No.60.

  • Ruskin, John - Enlarged Drawing of Part of the Ornament on an Etruscan Cup remains 56.

    As far as I have not done this rightly, on my eyes be it, but there is enough in the drawing to show the quality of the minute drawing ornament, viz the filling of spaces with a quantity, equal on the average everywhere. of beautifully curved lines and spaces. Every one of the lines here is springy and vital, and the outline of any of the spaces would be a beautiful one in itself for any cutting instrument, knife, or lance, or hatchet-head. This is the first quality of ornament in the work of nations who are going to be great. The design is in itself interesting as one of the earliest conceptions of the ‘Chime æra’. The caricature of projecting nose in the human figure is constant in archaic art.

  • R.
  • Macdonald, Alexander - Study of Part of the Sepulchral Relief of Demetrius remains 57.

    Standard for execution of shade in drawings admitting its full depth. Held upside down it will be seen that the folds of the drapery might represent two beautiful leaves of a water-plant clasping its ascending stem. This shows at once the strictly ornamental and constructive arrangements, not only of every line, but of every surface in noble sculpture. In archaic Greek and Etruscan sculpture and in the parallel Christian schools of the xiith century these ornamental lines are disposed under the strictest submission to the law of gravity; the substance of the stuff being conceived as entirely fluent and incapable of forming an angle, unless under such violent tension as that of a whiplash when it is cracked. The introduction of draperies capable of sustaining themselves in angles is a sign of later schools, and the prevalence of such drapery of debased ones.

  • unidentified - Photograph of a Study of Drapery for a seated Figure by Leonardo da Vinci remains 58.

    This photograph represents the original drawing with great exactitude, and the original drawing is an admitted standard among artists of a complete study R. of drapery on dark ground, with body-colour white; but more pains have been taken with it than the subject is worth - Leonardo having lost much of his true life and gained much of his false fame by doing mean things in an ostentatiously complete manner.

  • Hunt, William Henry - Still Life with earthenware Pitcher, Coffee Pot and Basket remains 59.

    Put beside the Leonardo, partly to exhibit the completion of the older work by contrast with the imperfection of the modern, which in this case has probably been hurried, either as a lesson or for sale, but principally because the painting of the coffee-pot and brown jug is as good as such objects deserve and insuperably good in the intelligent variety of local and reflected colour. All students are to copy the coffee-pot as soon as they are able. The form of the brown jug is also a useful example of the kind of curves and proportions which are essentially vulgar as compared with outlines like those of the Greek vases in No. 51.

  • Hunt, William Henry - Study of a Copper Pot and a Horn Mug remains 60.

    Standard example of colour-execution on objects more or less rustic and picturesque, yet having great R. subtlety in some parts, as, for instance, here the edge of the horn-mug. There is scarcely any difference between this and the finest Venetian execution, except that the Venetian, being almost invariably of beautiful things, is itself always graceful and beautiful to the utmost degree. For instance, had the rim of the mug been of silver instead of pewter, Hunt’s execution would have become a little more delicate; but as in England our powers of enjoyment are more rustic than refined - so that we may any day produce a Bewick, a Gainsborough, or a William Hunt, but have little chance of producing a Filippo Lippi - the manner of execution in this drawing is that for the most part best adapted to the national temper which, if compelled to be refined, nearly always becomes mechanical.

  • Ruskin, John - A Study of Japanese Porcelain, enclosed in Wickerwork remains 61.

    Rapid study for a first practice in colour. Each drawing is to be carefully, but lightly, outlined in pencil first, and then executed with one wash touched while it is wet, doing as much as is possible on those terms - that is to say, the blue inside of the cup is to be done with one coat of very wet grey-blue, leavR. ing the high lights with sharp edge and putting a little black before the coat is dry into it for shadow. The brown outside is to be done with one coat of brown, putting yellow and grey into it as it dries. As soon as it is quite dry nothing more is to be done to it. When the inner coat is quite dry, the blue pattern is to be put upon it with sig single touches of the brush, and the dark lip to be done last, with the few darkest touches at the bottom. The lower figure is to be done in the same manner, all with one wash; except the dark lip which is to be done when the rest is dry.

  • Ruskin, John - A Study of modern Danish Porcelain remains 62.

    A slightly more complex study of the same kind. The shadow is badly done: the student must do it better if he can: mine having had two washes, which are not allowable. Practice of this kind should be persisted in from still life, paying more and more attention to precision of outline and truth of tone, as the method is mastered.

  • unidentified - Photograph of four Greek Ceramics remains 63.

    As soon as the student has attained moderate skill, he is to copy the three principal vases in R. this photograph, allowing himself two, but not more, washes for their chiaroscuro, and laying on the patterns with not more than two washes of flat colour, of which the second is to be used in the central vase for the darker parts of the aniimals.

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