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Unpublished manuscript catalogue for proposed re-organisation of the Rudimentary series.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 / 6th Cabinet / 1st Section

  • 126.

    The left-hand group of in this cabinet 126-138. consists entirely of examples of the work of Turner, the first six being by his own hand, and the remainder admirable copies by Mr Ward of the vignettes to Roger’s Italy and Poems - copies which for all educational purposes are nearly as useful as the originals would have been. This first example is a most characterisR. tic one of Turner’s earliest manner, pencil-outline washed with neutral tint. He could not have been more than 14 or 15 when he made this sketch; but he had been under good water-colour masters and was already quite practised in laying flat colour. His sense of warmth and sunlight is already shown by the difference in hue between the bridge and distance, as well as between the cottage-roof and the towers of the castle (Tunbridge). I should strongly recommend the copying of this work by every student, though I will not make it imperative.

  • Turner, Joseph Mallord William - Bergamo remains 127.

    Bergamo, another drawing of Turner’s youth, made before he had been in Italy, and representing the Alps like the South-downs with snow on them; yet with a grandeur and quiet power in it which I should be glad that the student felt, though I do not think that any words will aid him in doing so.

  • Turner, Joseph Mallord William - Boats on a Beach now 126 128.

    Study, of consummate excellence, in Turner’s early manner: the sky already nearly as beautiful as it can be, and the drawing of the boat in flat tints an exercise of incomparable value. I hope that notes on R. this drawing will be furnished to us by Mr. Kingsley, who knows Turner’s work at this period far better than I do. As an example of Turner’s minute care see the teeth of the saw in the hand of the right-hand figure, the twisting of the boat’s cable and the blocks in the halyards of the dark sail in the distance.

  • Turner, Joseph Mallord William - Scarborough now 128 129.

    A study by Turner at Scarborough, entirely authoritative as to his methods of work: all of these depending on his determining what he wanted from the beginning. The quantity, as well as the excellence, of what he did, depended entirely on this faculty. He never lost time in hesitation or strength in repentance; though frequently, going over his outline with colour, he would correct his errors with frankness; and you may nearly always know when he has done so, for he is pretty sure in such cases, as in this example, to leave the old outline behind.

  • Turner, Joseph Mallord William - On the Rhine now 129 130.

    First beginning of a sketch in his great time, shewing how his method of work remained the same from first to last. Travellers who know the Rhine will easily recognise the scene; though it is a little disguised by the white clouds left between the hills, and to the forms R. of which more attention has been paid than to those of the buildings. The scrawled writing in the distance is unintelligible.

  • Turner, Joseph Mallord William - On the Rhine: looking over Sankt Goar to Katz, from Burg Rheinfels now 130 131.

    A study of the Rhine in Turner’s finest manner. Nothing can possibly be more exemplary in the use of the simplest means, or in the arrangement of glowing colour and the tender depth of shadows that have no gloom in them. It should be copied by every student who can enjoy it.

  • Ward, William II - Drawing of Turner's "Saint Maurice" now 145 132.

    St. Maurice, a copy by M.r. Ward of the most beautiful of the vignettes to the Italy. Nothing is finer in the whole range of Turner’s works than the original drawing, and I should never end if I began talking about it. I should probably, nevertheless, have begun and not ended, if I were not brought to pause by my entire inability to find excuse for a fault which, unless I advised him of it, the student would probably not have found out, but which in honour I cannot conceal, that the Rhone runs the wrong way. It might indeed have been long before this audacity - for it is not an error - had been detected; for the railroad passes the R. scene in a tunnel, and not one traveller in a thousand ever sees either the bridge or the river; but before this record of one quite the greatest among the works of human art, I am bound to acknowledge whatever can be justly alleged against it. The facts are that, from the beginning to the end of his life, Turner’s object was never to give literal or geographical account of anything, but to perpetuate the mental impression he had himself received from it. That impression at St. Maurice had depended on the aspect of the bridge seen from this side and on the rapidity of the Massy river that rushed beneath it, but not in the least on the quarter of the compass to which its current was directed. He felt himself unable to express its power in looking down stream and chose therefore to represent the bridge behind it and the river in front. I do not justify this, but if Turner had always done right, his country and the world lon would long ago have known that he did, and there would have been no occasion for any author of Modern Painters.

  • Ward, William II - Drawing of Turner's "Martigny" now 146 133.

    Martigny; travelling in the olden time, and hotel accommodation, equally a thing of the past; again one R. of Turner’s most beautiful compositions, which can only be understood by copying it, nor, even so, without much love of things usually despised.

  • W.S(2) 41 134.

    Como, the most elaborate vignette in the Italy; but I could not recommend it for a study as I do the two first. Its lovely qualities of texture can only be attained by artistic skill which is not to be supposed in the average student; and in the arrangement of its forms there is less practice than in the others.

  • Ward, William II - Drawing of Turner's "The Campagna of Rome" now 147 135.

    The Campagna of Rome . As the last was the most elaborate, this is the slightest of the Italy vignettes. On that account, also, it is the best for practice and must be done by every student without exception. For expression of sunlight and air, with a few touches on white paper, I literally never saw the like of the original. The drawing of the ruined fragment of temple is admirable practice. Such work is continually wanted in drawing Italian subjects.

  • Ward, William II - Drawing of Turner's "Perugia" now 148 136.

    Palestrina; another admirable one for practice. It is impossible to explain the exquisite qualities of R. taste which Turner shows in these compositions, and sympathy with the characters of Greek Italian landscape, which in him was quite as passionate and far more pure than the sentiment either of Byron or Shelley.

  • Ward, William II - Drawing of Turner's "Valombré" now 149 137.

    The falls in Vallombre, one of the vignettes to Roger’s poem of Jacqueline. The literature and the illustrations of the two volumes of Roger’s Works are in envious harmony. Roger’s Italy is a much less studied piece of writing than his other poems, and it is of far higher quality than any of them: Turner’s illustrations to the Italy never contain more than half the work of the illustrations to the Poems and are always at least three times as good. In this instance we have a pretty example which we may oppose directly to the subject of Martigny No. 133 . The Martigny is the illustration of a story in the ‘Italy’ called Marguerite, and this is the illustration of a story in the Poems called Jacqueline. Marguerite goes to a real place viz. Martigny whereat she keeps the inn of The Silver Swan. Turner draws the real place with perfect ease and produces a noble work of art. Jacqueline, on the contrary, goes to the falls in Vallombre, but there are no R. such falls and there is no such valley. The name is merely adopted by Rogers from Vallombrosa in order to help him out with a rhyme. Turner invents falls and valley, hesitating between reminiscences of the Tees and the Anio for the water, and between Rhymer’s Glen and the Via Mala for the valley; he elaborates the composition with his most exquisite care, and yet the utmost that we can say of it is that it is a beautiful bit of work entirely incredible. For all that the advanced student will find the greatest advantage in copying work so exquisite, and I have seldom seen a better illustration of the power of composition than the height and the extent given to the ravine merely by the placing of the figure of the stag. The cast shadows of the trees above are also of immense constructive importance.

  • R.
  • 138.

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