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

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

John Ruskin and the Geographical Imagination

Denis Cosgrove selects works from Ruskin’s Teaching Collection and reveals a poetry of landscape that inspired geographical learning a century ago.

John Ruskin and the Geographical Imagination

Collection Trails: 31 objects

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The Palazzo della Ragione and Piazza delle Erbe, Padua John Ruskin

  • Curator’s description:


    The drawing is taken from the point where the Via Daniele Manin opens into the Piazza delle Erbe in Padua, looking towards the Palazzo della Ragione which fills the centre of the drawing, a series of awnings and pile of goods leaning against the ramshackle loggia at its base. The corner of the Palazzo Municipio can be seen behind it.

    Stylistically, the drawing belongs to the early 1840s, when Ruskin was working in graphite and wash with yellow highlights (a technique inspired by David Roberts's Syrian drawings). He visited Padua in 1841, passsing through the city on 6 May and staying overnight on 17 May (see I.xxxviii n. 2). Taylor dates the drawing to the latter visit; certainly May 1841 seems a reasonable date.

    The drawing was first catalogued in the Oxford collection in 1906, when Cook and Wedderburn included it as no. 87 in the Reference Series - one of a set of frames (nos 84-100) which Ruskin had never listed in his own catalogues of the collection.

    Although Ruskin visited Padua some six times, he seems never to have referred to the Palazzo della Ragione in his writings.

  • Details

    John Ruskin (1819 - 1900)
    Object type
    Material and technique
    graphite, watercolour, bodycolour and pen and ink on grey paper
    344 x 493 mm
    Associated place
    Recto, bottom edge, right in graphite: Padua

    Presumably presented by John Ruskin to the Ruskin Drawing School (University of Oxford); first recorded in the Ruskin Drawing School in 1906; 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, ‘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. Reference no. 87

    Taylor, Gerald, ‘John Ruskin: A Catalogue of Drawings by John Ruskin in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford’, 7 fascicles, 1998, Oxford, Ashmolean Museum, no. 011


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