© University of Oxford - Ashmolean Museum
The detail focusses on the figures of the Three Graces, arranged across the front of picture; Mercury's upper half can be seen behind the Graces in the top left corner.
Cook and Wedderburn identify this as a photograph of Tintoretto's painting of "The Three Graces and Mercury", executed from 1577 to July 1578 and placed in the Atrio Quadrato of the Ducal Palace, Venice, before being moved to its present location in the Anticollegio. A drawing by Burne-Jones of a detail of Tintoretto's "Marriage of Bacchus and Ariadne in the Presence of Venus", also painted for the Atrio Quadrato and moved to the Anticollegio, is no. 113 in the Rudimentary Series.
The photograph first appears in the Teaching Collection in the "Catalogue of Examples" of 1870, as no. 22 in the Standard Series, a position it retained in the 1872 catalogue of the series.
Ruskin admired the image's controlled display of power, but abhorred the 'love of liberty and pleasure' which it also embodied and which, he considered, led to the ruin of Venice. He presumably planned to comment on the picture at greater length in the series of lectures on Tintoretto which he was planning in June 1870 but which he never delivered (see XX.li).
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, ‘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. 22
Ruskin, John, Catalogue of Examples Arranged for Elementary Study in the University Galleries (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1870), cat. Standard no. 22
Ruskin, John, Catalogue of the Reference Series Including Temporarily the First Section of the Standard Series (London: Smith, Elder, ), cat. Standard no. 22
I shall have frequent occasion to refer to this picture; but cannot enter upon any criticism of it here,—it is consummate in unostentatious power, but has all the fatal signs of the love of liberty and of pleasure which ruined the Venetian state.
I shall have frequent occasion to refer to this picture; but cannot enter upon any criticism of it here,—it is consummate in unostentatious power, but has all the fatal signs of the love of liberty, and of pleasure, which ruined the Venetian state.