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

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

Ruskin's revision to the Rudimentary series (1878)

Unpublished manuscript catalogue for proposed re-organisation of the Rudimentary series.

Rudimentary manu 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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Drawing of the Inscription over the Door of the Badia of San Domenico, Fiesole John Ruskin

  • Ruskin text

    1.

    Inscription over the door of Badia, Fiesole. A fitting introduction to our work under the Laws of Fiesole. I am not sure of its date but presume by the rudeness of the birds introduced on the right hand that it can scarcely be later than the xth century. I am sorry that this is drawn all obliquely and imperfectly: in which respect, however, it is a true type of the best I have been able to do in all things. But if I had begun ruling lines I should have been continually impeded in copying the letters by the necessity of their coming into a certain place; whereas now, I think, each is very nearly a fac-simile of the real one; and in this respect also the drawing represents all my work - that in essential points it is useful and in its failures frank. The inscription records the principal laws of Heaven enforced by the early church of Florence. Whatsoever things praying ye seek, believe that ye shall have them and they shall come forth to you. When ye stand to pray, remit if ye have anything against any one.

  • Details

    Artist/maker
    John Ruskin (1819 - 1900)
    Object type
    drawing
    Material and technique
    pen and ink over graphite on wove paper, with corrections in bodycolour
    Dimensions
    182 x 275 mm
    Associated place
    Inscription
    Recto, all below the image:
    right, in ink: J. Ruskin | 1874
    the full width of the image, in ink: Inscription on two blocks of adjusted marble, over door of Badia. Fiesole. The - in omnia conjectural A [without a cross-bar] in Adversus is right.
    written just above this, in graphite painted out with bodycolour: The A in adversum no cross strok[e]

    Bottom right, in graphite (recent): R. 13

    Verso, bottom left, 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.RUD.013bis
  • Subject terms allocated by curators:

    Subjects

  • References in which this object is cited include:

    References

    Ruskin, John, ‘Rudimentary Series 1878’, 1878, Oxford, Oxford University Archives, cat. Rudimentary 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. Rudimentary no. 13bis

    Taylor, Gerald, ‘John Ruskin: A Catalogue of Drawings by John Ruskin in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford’, 7 fascicles, 1998, Oxford, Ashmolean Museum, no. 297

Location

    • Western Art Print Room

Ruskin's Catalogues

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

    1.

    Inscription over the door of Badia, Fiesole. A fitting introduction to our work under the Laws of Fiesole. I am not sure of its date but presume by the rudeness of the birds introduced on the right hand that it can scarcely be later than the xth century. I am sorry that this is drawn all obliquely and imperfectly: in which respect, however, it is a true type of the best I have been able to do in all things. But if I had begun ruling lines I should have been continually impeded in copying the letters by the necessity of their coming into a certain place; whereas now, I think, each is very nearly a fac-simile of the real one; and in this respect also the drawing represents all my work - that in essential points it is useful and in its failures frank. The inscription records the principal laws of Heaven enforced by the early church of Florence. Whatsoever things praying ye seek, believe that ye shall have them and they shall come forth to you. When ye stand to pray, remit if ye have anything against any one.

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