Ruskin Library


Ruskin Research



John Ruskin, Flower Study

All his life Ruskin drew in pencil, ink and watercolour, as a way of recording the world around him: the Ruskin Library houses many of his sketchbooks, notebooks and beautifully illustrated diaries.  Many of the illustrations, particularly those of architectural subjects, became the basis of plates in his many books; others he redrew and completed as watercolour or ink drawings.  The earliest drawing in our collection is a Map of Italy, drawn when he was 8 or 9, the latest, and Ruskin’s last known watercolour, is a view of Seascale, on the Cumbrian Coast, drawn when he was 70.

His fame as an artist meant many requests for drawing lessons: to some he gave personal instruction to a few people—such as Louisa Blandy and Emily Warren—and gave informal correspondence courses to others. To enable him to fulfil all the requests he published Elements of Drawing in 1857, which was followed by two further books,  Elements of Perspective and The Laws of Fèsole. 

The drawing session at the workshop is based around the teaching in Ruskin’s first book.  We provide a variety of natural material for the children to draw—seasonal flowers, dried flowers and leaves, shells, feathers and rocks—none of it is ‘hard’ or ‘easy’, but hopefully all of it is interesting. Try some of the links at the bottom of the page to see how children have tackled the material, along with illustrations and text by Ruskin and his associates.

John Ruskin, Flower Study
Child Drawing

Exhibition case from 'Sketching from Nature'

In 2008 we included drawings (and some illustrated letters) by school children and adult visitors in our exhibition 'Sketching from Nature'. This photograph of a display case shows childrens' work alongside that of Ruskin's friend Susie Beever.

Child Drawing


If you would like to see more of our botanical drawings, look at our Ruskin's Flora exhibition page, and our expanding illustrated catalogue of botanical drawings.

School Visits Drawing Workshop Book
John Ruskin Booking a Visit


Opening times:
Gallery: -
Monday-Friday 10am-4pm - during Exhibitions (closed weekends and Bank Holidays)
Reading Room: - Monday-Friday 10am-4pm - (by appointment only)

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