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

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

Browse: 1470 objects

Reference URL

Actions

Send e-mail

Contact us about this object

Send e-mail

Send to a friend

Print of the Decoration on a Greek Cylix, showing Hephaestus Kaeppelin et Compagnie

  • Curator’s description:

    Description

    The lithograph shows a youthful Hephaestus, holding a tool resembling an adze as he works on the object before him. It reproduces the decoration of a red-figure cylix in the British Museum. It was plate XXXVII in the first volume of Lenormant and de Witte's "Elite des monuments céramographiques", published in 1844. It was presumably taken from Ruskin's copy of the work now preserved in the Ruskin Library (inventory no. 1996B2621), which is missing many of its plates.

    The print was first catalogued by Ruskin in 1870, as no. 211 in the Standard Series, framed with two more prints from Lenormant and de Witte, of a black figure illustration of the birth of Athena, and another red-figure illustration of Hephaestus; they formed part of a series 'arranged chiefly with the view of showing the change in Greek conception of deity'. It retained its number in the 1871 catalogue of the Standard and Reference Series but, by the time Cook and Wedderburn were compiling their edition of the catalogues (published in 1906), the frame had been moved to no. 193. Cook and Wedderburn note (XXI.45 n. 1) that it carried its original number (211) on the edge of its frame, but the new number (193) on the face. Presumably, it was easier to engrave and attach a new ivory label on the edge of the frame than it was to remove or gild over the painted number on the face.

    According to Ruskin, the change in the ancient Greek conception of deity took place between the sixth and fourth centuries BC, and was marked by a development from conceiving of the gods as embodiments of physical forces to individual, characterised intelligences; from active to passive figures; and from grotesque to deliberately-selected beautiful depictions. At the same time, ceramic decoration changed from painting black figures on the red ground to painting a black background, letting the red ground show through in the figures themselves - though this soon led to careless execution. He believed the best vases were red-figure vases produced just after the transition (Catalogue of Examples, pp. 25-27; Standard and Reference catalogue, pp. 28-30).

    Ruskin described the print as showing 'Hephaestus as the Labourer, Youthful', and it was presumably intended to show the development in images of Hephaestus.

  • Details

    Artist/maker
    Kaeppelin et Compagnie (active c. 1839 - c. 1860) (printer)
    A. Rey (active c. 1844 - c. 1858) (lithographer)
    Object type
    print
    Material and technique
    watercolour and bodycolour over lithograph on wove paper
    Dimensions
    127 x 170 mm (stone); 233 x 271 mm (sheet)
    Inscription
    Recto, all printed, around the image:
    top right: PL. XXXVII.
    bottom left: Lith. de Kaeppelin et Cie,,
    bottom right: A. R.

    Recto, in manuscript, top left corner, in ink (the beginning of the word trimmed away): [Vu]lcan
    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.REF.193.c
  • Subject terms allocated by curators:

    Subjects

  • References in which this object is cited include:

    References

    Lenormant, Charles, and Jean de Witte, Elite des monuments céramographiques: Matériaux pour l'histoire des religions et des moeurs de l'antiquité, 4 vols in 8 (Paris: Leleux, 1844-1861), vol. I, pl. XXXVII

    Ruskin, John, Catalogue of Examples Arranged for Elementary Study in the University Galleries (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1870), cat. Standard no. 211

    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. Reference no. 193

    Ruskin, John, Catalogue of the Reference Series Including Temporarily the First Section of the Standard Series (London: Smith, Elder, [1872]), cat. Reference no. 211

Location

    • Western Art Print Room

Position in Ruskin’s Collection

Ruskin's Catalogues

© 2013 University of Oxford - Ashmolean Museum