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

Scene on the Loire Turner

  • Curator’s description:

    Description

    The broad river runs along the foreground and off to the right, with a high brown bank on the left edge dipping down before rising again to a high blue cliff, topped by a building (a castle?) in the centre; distant hills are indicated below a few thin yellow clouds on the right. In the foreground, a group of fishermen in a rowing boat lean over the edge, apparently hauling in their nets.

    Drawn as part of Turner's series of "The Rivers of France", but never published. Cook & Wedderburn (XIII.li) quote an anecdote concerning the series told by Ruskin to George Allen: '"One day," said Ruskin, "Turner came to me with a bundle in a dirty piece of brown paper under his arm. It contained the whole of his drawings for the Rivers of France. 'You shall have the whole series, John,' said he, 'unbroken, for twenty-five guineas apiece.' And my father actually thought I was mad to want them!"' He acquired the seventeen published drawings for 1,000 guineas from Hannah Cooper in 1858, and seems to have acquired several of the unpublished works at the same time. This was the only one of his "Rivers of France" drawings not to form part of his 1861 gift of Turners to the University.

    Ruskin clearly regarded this particular drawing very highly, considering it variously 'a faultless example of Turner's later and most accomplished work' (Catalogue of Examples), 'quite inestimable' (Notes on Turner Drawings, under no. 52 = XIII.449) , 'the loveliest of all' the Loire drawings (Lectures on Landscape, § 74 = XXII.55-56), 'a faultless, and, I believe, unsurpassable example of water-colour painting' (Lectures on Art, § 25 = XX.37-38), and 'the drawing which, of all the Turners I gave you, I miss the most' (The Art of England, § 122 = XXXIII.348-349).

    Consequently, the drawing came to serve a number of purposes in Ruskin's writings. Most practically, in his Teaching Collection catalogue entries, it served as an example of how, in watercolours and bodycolours, the bare paper can contribute to the effect of the work. Referring to the picture in the instructions included in the Rudimentary Series catalogue, Ruskin pointed out how each colour in the boat is painted in a single stroke. In the "Lectures on Landscape" (§ 74) its subdued tones and use of a coloured paper exemplified 'modesty in colour' (Ruskin thought the paper to have been grey, though it was originally a blue, which had quickly faded).

    A 'pensive' work, the drawing also represented Turner's thoughts towards the end of his life, and the eternity of beauty (Notes on Turner Drawings, no. 52), as well as providing a point of reference for his students' feelings about their native landscape (Inaugural Lecture, § 25), and pointing out to them the beauties inherent in the most familiar scenes (The Art of England, § 122).

    Two copies after this drawing are known: one, by Alexander Macdonald, which Ruskin presented to the Felstead Diocesan College of Banbury Road, Oxford; and a second, weak, copy recorded by Herrmann as being in his possession

  • Details

    Artist/maker
    Turner (Joseph Mallord William Turner) (1775 - 1851)
    Object type
    drawing
    Material and technique
    watercolour and bodycolour on blue wove paper
    Inscription
    Stand 3
    Provenance

    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.

    No. of items
    1
    Accession no.
    WA.RS.STD.003
  • Subject terms allocated by curators:

    Subjects

  • References in which this object is cited include:

    References

    Wilton, Andrew, The Life and Work of J.M.W. Turner (London: Academy Editions, 1979), no. 991

    Herrmann, Luke, Ruskin and Turner: A Study of Ruskin as a Collector of Turner, Based on His Gifts to the University of Oxford: Incorporating a Catalogue Raisonné of the Turner Drawings in the Ashmolean Museum (London: Faber & Faber, 1968)

    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), p. 203

    Ruskin, John, ‘Notes By Mr. Ruskin ... on His Drawings by the Late J. M. W. Turner, R. A., [and] on His Own Handiwork Illustrative of Turner’, Edward T. Cook and Alexander Wedderburn, eds, The Works of John Ruskin: Library Edition, 39 (London: George Allen, 1903-1912), 13, cat. under no. 52 = XIII.449

    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)

    Ruskin, John, ‘Lectures on Landscape: Delivered at Oxford in Lent Term, 1871’, Edward T. Cook and Alexander Wedderburn, eds, The Works of John Ruskin: Library Edition, 39 (London: George Allen, 1903-1912), 22

    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. Standard no. 3

    Ruskin, John, ‘The Art of England: Lectures Given in Oxford by John Ruskin ... During His Second Tenure of the Slade Professorship’, Edward T. Cook and Alexander Wedderburn, eds, The Works of John Ruskin: Library Edition, 39 (London: George Allen, 1903-1912), 23

    Ruskin, John, Catalogue of the Reference Series Including Temporarily the First Section of the Standard Series (London: Smith, Elder, [1872]), cat. Standard no. 3

    Ruskin, John, ‘Lectures on Art: Delivered Before the University of Oxford in Hilary Term, 1870’, Edward T. Cook and Alexander Wedderburn, eds, The Works of John Ruskin: Library Edition, 39 (London: George Allen, 1903-1912), 20

    Ruskin, John, Catalogue of Examples Arranged for Elementary Study in the University Galleries (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1870), cat. Standard no. 3

Location

    • Western Art Print Room

Position in Ruskin’s Collection

Ruskin's Catalogues

  • Ruskin's Catalogue of Examples (1870)

    3. Scene on the Loire.

    Chosen in farther illustration of the pensiveness of the chiaroscurist school, and as a faultless example of Turner’s later and most accomplished work. It is painted wholly in solid colour, as No. 2 is painted wholly in transparent; and the two drawings together show the complete management of colours soluble in water, or thin liquid of any kind, and laid on grounds which are to be made to contribute to the effect. The lights in the first drawing, and the gray sky and water in the second, are of course both the grounds left, white and gray.

  • Ruskin's Standard & Reference series (1872)

    3. Scene on the Loire.

    Chosen in farther illustration of the pensiveness of the chiaroscurist school, and as a faultless example of Turner’s later and most accomplished work. It is painted wholly in solid colour, as No. 2 is painted wholly in transparent; and the two drawings together show the complete management of colours soluble in water, or thin liquid of any kind, and lain on grounds which are to be made to contribute to the effect. The lights in the first drawing, and the gray sky and water in the second, are of course both the grounds left, white and gray.

© 2013 University of Oxford - Ashmolean Museum