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

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

Browse: 1470 objects

Reference URL

Actions

Send e-mail

Contact us about this object

Send e-mail

Send to a friend

Study of Sky on Mount Pilatus John Ruskin

  • Curator’s description:

    Description

    Mount Pilatus, six miles to the south of Luzern, is silhouetted against a changing sky, in which the sun appears through light cloud in the top centre, and dark rain clouds fill the area to the left.

    The drawing was framed with another of Mount Pilatus, on paper of similar size and type, and it seems likely both were from the same sketchbook, and done at the same time. The other drawing carries an inscription dating it to 25 November 1861, but Ruskin's diary entry for that day was written at Altdorf, about twenty miles south-east, where he had gone for three days' walking with Crawley and Couttet. However, the year is confirmed by the label which accompanied both drawings, and Taylor proposes that they were in fact made the day before.

    The date of 24/25 November 1861 is only suggested by Taylor, as Ruskin's diary entry for the 25 November was written at Altdorf, about twenty miles south-east, where he had gone for three days' walking with Crawley and Couttet. However, the year is confirmed by a line, written on a separate piece of paper below the two sketches and initialled by Ruskin, which reads 'Sunsets - on two outlines of Pilate; weathered forms of steep beds', and is dated '1861'. The other drawing referred to in this inscription was mounted in the same frame; as it is on paper of similar size and type, and of a similar subject, it seems likely that both drawings were made at the same time and in the same sketchbook.

    The drawing first appears in the 1878 revisions of the Teaching Collection, as no. 121 in the Rudimentary Series, alongside other drawings of mountains and skies. By 1906, however, it had been moved to no. 294 in the Educational Series, where it replaced a copy of Turner's mezzotint of Paestum which had, by then, been moved to no. 172 in the Rudimentary Series.

    In his manuscript reorganisation of the Rudimentary Series, Ruskin describes how, by making rapid notes and then a separate drawing from memory, his students would be able to catch fleeting effects such as these - which, he noted, few 'well taught amateurs' seemed to produce.

  • Details

    Artist/maker
    John Ruskin (1819 - 1900)
    Object type
    drawing
    Material and technique
    watercolour over graphite on paper
    Dimensions
    131 x 208 mm
    Associated place
    Inscription
    Verso:
    top left, in graphite: B.1.Bottom | B2 Top [the bottom line struck through]
    bottom right, in graphite: Edu 294 (b).
    centre, two impressions of the Ruskin School's stamp
    just below, in ink: M.27

    On a separate paper label, in ink: Sunsets - on two outlines of Pilate; weathered forms of steep beds. J.R. 1861
    Provenance

    Presumably presented by John Ruskin to the Ruskin Drawing School (University of Oxford); first recorded in the Ruskin Drawing School in 1878; transferred from the Ruskin Drawing School to the Ashmolean Museum c.1949

    No. of items
    1
    Accession no.
    WA.RS.ED.294bis.b
  • Subject terms allocated by curators:

    Subjects

  • References in which this object is cited include:

    References

    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. Educational no. 294bis

    Ruskin, John, ‘Rudimentary Series 1878’, 1878, Oxford, Oxford University Archives, cat. Rudimentary no. 121

    Taylor, Gerald, ‘John Ruskin: A Catalogue of Drawings by John Ruskin in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford’, 7 fascicles, 1998, Oxford, Ashmolean Museum, no. 084.ii

    Ruskin, John, ‘The Works of John Ruskin’, Edward T. Cook and Alexander Wedderburn, eds, The Works of John Ruskin: Library Edition, 39 (London: George Allen, 1903-1912), vol. XXI, pl. LXIII (bottom), f.p. 278

Location

    • Western Art Print Room

Ruskin's Catalogues

  • Ruskin's revision to the Rudimentary series (1878)

    121.

    Two studies of sky on Mount Pilate; both records of most beautiful things passing away in a few moments. The upper one was sketched with ink in order to get, if possible, some look of the mist through which everything shone. The lower one, I am sorry to say, is as much as I can ever get as clouds are actually passing: but if students will get into the habit of noting R. as much as they can at the moment an securely and then setting down afterwards in another drawing what they remember, many of them will be able to do incomparably better things than I ever could, because I cannot draw from memory in the least. It is very wonderful to me that among all the able sketches which I see continually brought home from Switzerland by well taught amateurs, there are scarcely ever any records of fleeting effects of this kind done conscientiously.

© 2013 University of Oxford - Ashmolean Museum