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


Send e-mail

Contact us about this object

Send e-mail

Send to a friend

Pæstum (Plate from the "Little Liber Studiorum") Turner


    • Western Art Print Room

Position in Ruskin’s Collection

Ruskin's Catalogues

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

    remains 171. Pæstum

    A collection of the Liber Studorium would be incomplete without showing the way in which Turner practised on the copper to learn the business of Mezzotint engraving. Technically, this example ought to have begun the series, but the sublimity of its subject induces me to place it as the real Preface to his heroic design, and, I think, justifies me in doing so. The student will remember that in the Frontispiece the Classical Architecture is represented as fallen, but the Norman standing, meaning that the faith in which alone true architecture can be built had perished with the nations who held it in Greece and Italy, but was yet living in England and Normandy. His symbol of the destruction of a religious Faith is always storm and the lightning of Heaven. Thus, in his great drawing of Stone-Henge the fall of the Druidical Religion is indicated by the lightning totaltotal lightning striking one of the stones, while the shepherd flies with his scattered flock; but in the drawing of Salisbury seen from Old Sarum, (lent at present and placed in the Reference Series for comparison,) the storm is only partial, the shepherd stands erect still watching his flock, and the spire of the Christian cathedral rises in full light amid soft rain: while here, above the ruined temples of Pæstum, the fires R. of heaven blaze like a volcano, the clouds of its anger fly like angels of Ruin, and the skeleton of the shepherd lies in the ground: - it is seen in the completed plate only, the example here under consideration being the first sketch upon the metal.

© 2013 University of Oxford - Ashmolean Museum