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Unpublished manuscript catalogue for proposed re-organisation of the Rudimentary series.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 / 4th Cabinet / 1st Section

  • 76.

    If this photograph lasts, it s is quite invaluable, being taken before any restoration of the grandest work of the xiith century in France. Compare the draperies of the figures with what has been said above of No 57. The nation which could design these statues was capable of advance to far greater things than even the Greeks did, and the destruction of their power by the pride and infidelity of the xvth century has never yet been explained, R. far less lamented, as it deserves. It is the central moral question in Christian history, and I hope to be able yet to throw some light on it before closing my work in Oxford.

  • 77.

    Italian xiith century work, parallel with that of Chartres in date, but showing the exquisite refinement of Lombardic execution founded on Byzantine traditions. It is essentially Greek design with the precision and finish added which we find only in North Italy. The variety of interval between the inlaid stars is intentional, but the extreme irregularity of the stars themselves is my fault, the drawing having been made in great haste.

  • 78.

    Study of the base of a shaft in the facade of the duomo at Lucca, of the real size. It is very faultful in not being properly rounded, but cost me so much trouble in getting the contour of the leafage, that I was obliged to give up the general gradation. But I am very proud of these contours themselves, having at last succeeded R. in getting the precision and freedom of the originals with sufficient accuracy. In the original the work is a kind of engraving in fine marble, the chisel moving with the lightness and facility of a pen, and everything depending on the beauty of outline only, set off by slightly depressed shades. There is no modelling in the interior of the leaves. It is work little, if at all, subsequent in date to the last example, and I have never seen anything to surpass it.

  • Ruskin, John - Study of Carved Foliage on the Tomb of Eleanor of Castile in Westminster Abbey 79.

    I meant to make this drawing as good as I could, and have taken so much pains with it that I have lost the pleasantness of ease without reaching the point of completion. As an example of English xivth century sculpture, the original in Westminster Abbey, defaced though it be, is still unsurpassable.

  • 80.

    Examples of flat sculpture from Pisa & Florence. The one in the centre is the filling of a spandril of Santa Maria della Spina at Pisa before its restoration, quite exquisite in the architectural subjection of the birds’ form to the R. outline of the shield. The upper and two lateral subjects are from the tombs on the pavement of the Campo Santo at Pisa; the ornament on the right being an enlargement of the lowest corner of the quatre-foil on the left. The lowest shield is from the front of Santa Maria Novella at Florence .

  • Ruskin, John - Sketch of a Spandril in the western Porch of Bourges Cathedral remains 81.

    Rough sketch of the foliage filling a spandrill on the front of Bourges Cathedral; out and out the best work I have ever seen in Northern architecture in the xiiit.h. Century. The subject is enlarged and completed by Mr. Burgess in the drawing placed in the second recess of the school - omitting the figure of Eve which would have drawn the attention from the foliage and was too much defaced to be itself delightful. Its relation to the leafage and tempting dragon is sufficiently indicated in my sketch; which also preserves somewhat more the massive look of the real stone-work than Mr. Burgess’ study , which is the least bit too sharp in the leaf edges, though in their actions and gradation admirable. Both my sketch and his drawing were en R. larged from the photograph placed in the standard series, No.

  • 82.

    This sketch, though the foreground is uninteresting, is of great value as giving the old aspect of so important a Rhine city. It is placed here chiefly as an introduction to the beautiful drawing No. 83.

  • Prout, Samuel - On the Walls at Mainz 83.

    On the walls of Mayence; one of Prout’s most careful small sketches, and entirely beautiful in its expression of the delicacy of the roof of the tower, and the proportion of its pinnacles. It was realised by the artist in a finished lithograph, one of the most impressive of his early drawings.

  • 84.

    A singularly instructive sketch in the solidity and realisation of the buildings, though in great part little more than outline. Their delicate shadows scarcely relieving themselves from the grey paper, the figures admirably placed, and the effect of light through the arch, with the sense that we shall presently see all that is on the other side, could not be excelled in a finished painting.

  • R.
  • Prout, Samuel - Sketch at Cologne remains 85.

    An easy sketch, excellent for an introduction to architectural drawing, and as a lesson in composition; the first great object in all composition being to get things to hold well together. I do not know what the thing like a horseshoe was over the house-door, but I have not the least doubt it was little conspicuous in reality; but I have no doubt it was there in reality, for it is the great virtue of Prout always to make his composition of things that are there; but I do not believe this was so conspicuous, as I said, because it is of so great importance to the composition that I am almost certain Prout exaggerated it from some quite unimportant object. That little horse-shoe gathers all the square windows of the house together; also the two benches or upset tubs, or whatever they are, at the bottom add simply another story to the building and are equivalent to a Lombardic foundation of projecting stones in a grand church-front. These would not have been enough without the shutter connecting the window and door, and the loosening of this on its hinges is in a kind of harmony with R. the ruin on the side of the house above; for there is metaphysical as well as physical composition, and, if you begin ruining a house at the corner, you must carry the ruin through. I do not doubt that the obliquity of the windows in the gable-roof is Prout’s doing; it might have been so in reality, but is scarcely likely to such an extent. The likeliest thing is that these three windows were symmetrically placed over the door, and that Prout carried them to the side in order to get in the point of the gable, which is the first turn in the procession of form up to the flat-topped tower. You get, first a steep gable over oblong windows, then in the well a very flat gable over square openings more pronounced, and then in the tower no gable at all and the square pronunciation everything. If, however, this tower had come straight down behind the near wall, the eye would instantly have been uncomfortably caught by the right angle; the roof of the intermediate house introduces the wall to the tower in the politest possible way. There are ninety-nine chances to one that in reality this house-roof was farther to the right or left, and in either case it would R. have been of no use. Lastly, the use of the wall on the extreme right, is a slight, but yet sufficient, balance of interest on that side, making one think there is something going to happen there also, if we could see a little farther. I suspect this, also, to be done out of Prout’s head. The execution of the sculptured part of the tower is as good as it can possibly be on these simple terms. With nothing but a blunt lead pencil in your hand you cannot do more than Prout has here done to express the delicate richness of late Gothic architecture more or less softened by time.

  • 86.

    These two photographs, if they last, are quite invaluable. The building which they both represent is one of the most exquisite in France, and therefore in the world: representing the transition from Gothic to Renaissance, in which the Gothic being native to France is still beautiful, while the Renaissance wh. is imported is much vulgarized from its models. Also, in the roof are preserved three of the beautiful dormer-windows of Old Normandy, in which please observe, first, the immense importance R. of the delicate increasing magnitude in the central one making the whole house one mass, while if the three had been equal the roof would have shown no acknowledgement of the importance of the central window below. The chief value of these two photographs is, however, in shewing precisely the relations of the xixth century to the xvth. St. Roch is invoked only as the sign of the establishments for the sale of vêtements d’hommes et enfants, du gros and du détaille; and to give the word gros and détaille sufficiently gross and detailed dimensions to the eye, and, to announce the fact to the anxious beholder that this house unites Nos 21 and 23, all the three lateral panels of sculpture, that is to say, three coats of arms, with grand animal supporters different in every one, have been either covered up or broken away. For the advertisement of mens’ and childrens’ clothing the three circular sculptures supported by angels have been removed from the lower story; of course all the statues have been thrown down from their niches, and the great entrance turned into a pastry-cook’s shop - on which signs of the advance of literature and civilization R. in the city of ‘The Maid’s’ martyrdom I hope the student will sufficiently flatter and congratulate himself.

  • 87.
  • R.
  • 88.

    A village church in Normandy before the days of restoration. Its facade of the xiith century, its porch of the xivth, its shingle-covered tower or xvith, the churchyard-ornament later, but all in a progressive harmony - such things we now shall see no more.

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