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

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

Educational, manuscript (1878)

Unpublished manuscript catalogue for proposed re-organisation.

Educational 3 cover

Ruskin's Catalogues: 1 object

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Ruskin assembled a diverse collection of artworks for his drawing school in Oxford, including watercolours by J.M.W. Turner and drawings by Ruskin himself.  He taught students to draw as a way of educating them in how to look at art and the world around them.  

Ruskin divided his Teaching Collection into four main series: Standard, Reference, Educational and Rudimentary. Each item was placed in a numbered frame, arranged in a set of cabinets, so that they all had a specific position in the Collection (although Ruskin often moved items about as his ideas changed). 

When incorporated into the Ashmolean’s collection in the last century, the works were removed from the frames and the sequence was lost.  Here, Ruskin's original catalogues, notes and instructions - in his chosen order and in his own words - are united with images of the works and links to modern curatorial descriptions.

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Photograph of Saint John Baptist from Cima's "Virgin and Child with Saints John the Baptist and Paul" Anonymous Italian

  • Ruskin text

    1.

    Here, therefore, is the first of your Educational series chosen for you, not that you may try to copy, but that you may look at it, when you would be put in right temper for work. It will seem to speak to you if you look long; and say again, and yet again, ’´Ιδε—ό άϊρων. You will find the work of Cima of Conegliano referred to by me, long since, in the third volume of Modern Painters, as notable for its perfect painting of all lovely detail. His own Alps are in the distance here, and he shall teach us how to paint their wild flowers, and how to think of them.

  • Details

    Artist/maker
    Anonymous Italian (Anonymous, Italian) (photographer)
    after Cima da Conegliano (1459/60 - ?1518)
    Object type
    photograph
    Material and technique
    albumen print
    Dimensions
    270 x 120 mm (print); 297 x 148 mm (mount)
    Inscription
    On the back of the mount, 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.ED.001
  • 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. Educational no. 1

    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. 1

    Ruskin, John, Catalogue of the Educational Series (London: Spottiswoode, 1874), cat. Educational no. 1

    Ruskin, John, Catalogue of the Educational Series (London: Smith, Elder, 1871), cat. Educational no. 1

    Ruskin, John, ‘Educational Series 1878’, 1878, Oxford, Oxford University Archives, cat. Educational no. 1

Location

    • Western Art Print Room

Position in Ruskin’s Collection

Ruskin's Catalogues

  • Ruskin's Educational series, 1st ed. (1871)

    1 Head of the Baptist. (Cima da Conegliano). P
  • Ruskin's Educational series, 2nd ed. (1874)

    1. Head of the Baptist. (Cima da Conegliano). P
  • Educational, manuscript (1878)

    R No. 1

    This represents only a portion of a picture now in the Academy of Venice. I wished to have a head of John the Baptist to begin our series, and John the Baptist is the favourite Saint of Cima. Every Italian Painter has a favourite saint, and it seems as if the Saint has made also a favourite of the Painter, and declined to be painted by any body else; so that for everything one must go to a particular Painter. Nobody but Luini can draw a St. Catherine, nobody but Angelico a St. Lawrence, and nobody but Cima a St. John.

  • Ruskin's Catalogue of Examples (1870)

    1.

    Here, therefore, is the first of your Educational series chosen for you, not that you may try to copy, but that you may look at, when you would be put in right temper for work. It will seem to speak to you if you look long; and say again, and yet again, ¨Ιδε—ό αϊρων. It is by good Cima of Conegliano; his own Alps are in the distance, and he shall teach us how to paint their wild flowers, and how to think of them.

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