Monday, September 21, 2015

John Ruskin's Drawing School

In 1871, John Ruskin founded a drawing school at Oxford. Over the next few years he assembled 1470 diverse works of art for use his classes. Many were his own drawings, but others were prints, photographs, or works by other artists. They were arranged in series and placed in special cabinets. (Santa Maria della Spina, Verona)

In 1906 these all came into the possession of the Ashmolean Museum. They are now putting the whole collection online. The web site is set up so you can peruse the cabinets in order, or search within the collection for whatever interests you. I love Ruskin's drawings, so I searched for those; more than 200 have already been scanned. Most date to the 1830s or 1840s, when Ruskin was much in Italy. (Cobra, "drawn from life")

There is lots of other stuff in the collection. Ruskin was a fan of Turner, Dürer, and the Renaissance Italian masters, and he included many etchings of their work. But for me, nothing is better than these. Ruskin's drawings of buildings in particular are among my very favorite works of art.(Doge's palace, Venice, detail)

But Ruskin could also draw other things, like this view of pine trees on the Italian coast. Of this he wrote:
The black spruce and the stone-pine are both of equal importance in the Greek mind; as relating either to the mountains, or the sea and ships. But the true pine, whose double leaves give it the epithet διπλόθριξ, grows continually by the sea-shore, and is properly the one sacred to Poseidon. This piece of landscape, showing a bay of the Mediterranean through the stems of the pines, will give you some idea of the mingled grace and strength of the tree, where it grows on crag, and is tried by storms, as among the Greek islands.
Etruscan Cup, detail.

Market in Abbeville, France, and details. Ruskin called this a "sketch."

Study of a Shell.

Glacier des Bossons, Chamonix.

Capitoline Hill from the Forum, Rome, and Detail.

Ivy-Leaved Toadflax.

Tombs of the della Scalas, Verona.


Piazza della Erbe, Verona.

Ponte della Pietra, Verona. I spent two hours last night perusing these images, and if I had time I would do it again today.

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