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

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

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Photograph of Raphael's "Justice" on the Ceiling of the Stanza della Segnatura Anonymous Italian

  • Curator’s description:

    Description

    The figures are placed in a roundel, set against a background painted to imitate mosaic. Justice sits in the centre, holding a sword above her head in one hand and a pair of scales in the other. She sits on a bank of clouds, which also support a pair of children to either side of her: one of each pair is winged, one is not.

    As noted by Cook and Wedderburn, the photograph reproduces part of Raphael's ceiling decorations in the Stanza della Segnatura in the Vatican Palace, decorated for Pope Julius II from 1508 to 1511. Justice (or Jurisprudence) was one of four roundels, each depicted above the centre of one of the walls of the room, the others containing Theology, Poetry and Philosophy. The wall below Justice was decorated with the remaining Cardinal Virtues, Fortitude, Prudence and Temperance, and two scenes depicting the codification of laws in written form: "The Emperor Justinian handing the Pandects to Trebonianus" and "Pope Gregory IX handing the Decretals to St Raimund".

    The photograph first appears in the Teaching Collection in 1870, as no. 18 in the Standard Series in the "Catalogue of Examples", a position it retained in the 1872 catalogue of the series. It was immediately followed by a photograph of Raphael's "Poetry", from the same ceiling.

    Ruskin contrasted this picture with Giotto's pictures of "Justice" and "Injustice" in the Arena Chapel at Padua (no. 17) - the latter being didactic and 'full of true thought', whilst the Raphael was, in contrast, 'neither strong nor sincere' as Raphael was not thinking of Justice when he painted it, but merely 'how to put a charming figure in a graceful posture'. Ruskin did, however, acknowledge the artistic skill which had gone into the image, considering it to have been produced in Raphael's 'finest time'. Ruskin displayed a photograph of this picture (together with Giotto's and Dürer's pictures of "Justice") in his exhibition on flamboyant architecture at the Royal Institution in February 1869 ('Abbeville' Catalogue, no. 23 = XIX.273), where he made a similar point, describing the Raphael as 'affected and false in conception; perfect in workmanship'.

  • Details

    Artist/maker
    Anonymous Italian (Anonymous, Italian) (photographer)
    after Raphael (1483 - 1520)
    Object type
    photograph
    Material and technique
    albumen print
    Dimensions
    651 x 499 mm
    Associated place
    Inscription
    On the painting, and so part of the photograph, on the panels held by the putti:
    on the left: [...]IVS | [...]VV [a bar over the final V]
    on the right: [...]NICVIO | T[...] BV[...]

    Verso:
    bottom left, in graphite: No 1
    left of centre, in graphite: St 18
    bottom right, in graphite: 1
    bottom centre, the Ruskin School's stamp
    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.018
  • Subject terms allocated by curators:

    Subjects

  • References in which this object is cited include:

    References

    Ruskin, John, Catalogue of Examples Arranged for Elementary Study in the University Galleries (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1870), cat. Standard no. 18

    Ruskin, John, Catalogue of the Reference Series Including Temporarily the First Section of the Standard Series (London: Smith, Elder, [1872]), cat. Standard no. 18

    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. 18

    Ruskin, John, ‘References to the Series of Paintings and Sketches, From Mr. Ruskin's Collection, Shown in Illustration of the Relations of Flamboyant Architecture to Contemporary and Subsequent Art’, Edward T. Cook and Alexander Wedderburn, eds, The Works of John Ruskin: Library Edition, 39 (London: George Allen, 1903-1912), 19, no. 23 = XIX.273

Location

    • Western Art Print Room

Position in Ruskin’s Collection

Ruskin's Catalogues

  • Ruskin's Catalogue of Examples (1870)

    18. Justice. (Raphael.) Photograph from the Vatican fresco.

    Examine the details of Giotto’s design , and you will find them full of true thought; his purpose being throughout primarily didactic. Raphael, on the contrary, is not thinking of Justice at all; but only how to put a charming figure in a graceful posture. The work is however of his finest time as far as merely artistic qualities are concerned, and is in the highest degree learned and skilful; but neither strong nor sincere.

  • Ruskin's Standard & Reference series (1872)

    18. Justice. (Raphael.) Photograph from the Vatican fresco.

    In Giotto’s design of this symbolic figure , the details are full of true thought; his purpose being throughout primarily didactic. Raphael, on the contrary, is not thinking of Justice at all; but only how to put a charming figure in a graceful posture. The work is however of his finest time as far as merely artistic qualities are concerned, and is in the highest degree learned and skilful; but neither strong nor sincere.

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