Stephen Farthing R.A. presents eight practical drawing classes using John Ruskin’s teaching collections to explain the basic principles of drawing.
© University of Oxford - Ashmolean Museum
This drawing shows a view looking up the valley of the Arve to the south-east, with the Chaine du Reposoir beyond.
Ruskin took a house in Mornex from 16 August 1862 until May 1863, returning to England for a period of six weeks during November and December. In his diary he mentions drawing 'the Brezon' between 5 and 10 March.
The drawing was first catalogued by Ruskin in 1872, as no. 132 in the Rudimentary Series, where it was part of the first section of the sixth cabinet, devoted to 'Exercises in Pure Water-Colour, and Pencil Outline'. Its position was only altered in the 1878 reorganisation of the Series, where it was moved to no. 117, in the fifth cabinet, as 'an example of mountain drawing in pure pencil' - albeit an inaccurate one, having exaggerated certain aspects for his own purposes.
Ruskin's references in the 1878 manuscript catalogue to writing "Unto this Last" at the time he made the drawing are incorrect, as he wrote "Unto this Last" at Chamonix in 1860; at Mornex, he was working on "Munera Pulveris" (see Cook and Wedderburn: XVII.xxv & XXI.210 n. 1). Taylor notes that Ruskin referred to the Pointe d'Andey as 'The Brezon', a name he adopted from that of the nearby village of Brizon. Ruskin considered building a permanent house near the mountain's summit, as he was so attracted by the views (see his letters of7 April, 2, 14 and 26 May and 14 September 1863 = XXXVI.440, 442, 444, 445, 453); however, he was opposed by the locals who assumed, from watching him take geological samples, that Ruskin had discovered a valuable mineral deposit.
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.
Ruskin, John, Instructions in the Preliminary Exercises Arranged for the Lower Drawing-School (London: Smith, Elder, 1872), cat. Rudimentary no. 132
Ruskin, John, ‘Rudimentary Series 1878’, 1878, Oxford, Oxford University Archives, cat. Rudimentary no. 117
Ruskin, John, The Ruskin Art Collection at Oxford: Catalogue of the Rudimentary Series, in the Arrangement of 1873, ed. Robert Hewison (London: Lion and Unicorn Press, 1984), cat. Rudimentary no. 132, RUD.132
Ruskin, John, Instructions in Practice of Elementary Drawing, Arranged with Reference to the First Series of Examples in the Drawings Schools of the University of Oxford (n.p., ), cat. Rudimentary no. 132
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. Rudimentary no. 132
Ruskin, John, Instructions in the Preliminary Exercise Arranged For the Lower Drawing-School (London: Spottiswoode, 1873), cat. Rudimentary no. 132
Taylor, Gerald, ‘John Ruskin: A Catalogue of Drawings by John Ruskin in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford’, 7 fascicles, 1998, Oxford, Ashmolean Museum, no. 087
Next to this I place an example of mountain drawing in pure pencil, which will show what kind of labour I had to go through in gaining my own knowledge of mountain-form. At the time when I made this and the other Alpine studies admitted into this collection, I well hoped to have made some R. records of Swiss scenery which would have been precious, but even while I was finishing the shadows above the valley of Bonnville in this sketch, I was writing the first passages of Unto this Last, which began for me quite another work in this world. I do not recommend this study, however, as a copy; the anatomical markings in it being exaggerated for purposes of my own.