John Ruskin – Study of a Tracery Window at Merton College, Oxford
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Inscribed in pencil ‘about 1874 – or/75 J.R. ‘and’ R.98 (lower right). Pencil and bodycolour, with touches of black ink, on wove paper.
Provenance: Probably Doctor William Odling (1829-1921) or Thomas Case (1844-1925), thence by descent to Thomas George Odling (1911-2002) and Hilary Katharine Odling, of Paxford House, near Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire. A year after her death, in 2019, the picture was auctioned as part of the subsidiary contents of Paxford House; RB Williams, Ross on Wye, 17th September 2020, Lot No. 1.
Sheet: 11 3/8 x 8 7/8 in. (29 x 22.5 cm.)
Mount: 20 1/8 x 17 1/8 in. (51.2 x 43.5 cm.)
There are two likely ways in which the drawing might have become part of the collection at Paxford. Firstly, Thomas’s father, Doctor William Odling was interested in art and was a prolific collector of old master prints. In 1868 he was appointed Fullerian Professor of Chemistry at the Royal Institute, a place where Ruskin gave many Friday Evening Discourses from the early 1860s to the mid-1870s. It is not unreasonable, therefore, to suppose that the paths of the two men may have crossed. Secondly, Thomas’s grandfather was Thomas Case (1844-1925), an academic, philosopher, sportsman and author. He was Fellow of Brasenose College, Oxford, from 1868 to 1870, tutor at Balliol from 1870 to 1876, and subsequently on the staff of Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He also became Waynflete Professor of Metaphysical Philosophy at Oxford and President of Corpus Christi College. He was particularly interested in architecture and was involved in various restoration projects in Oxford. Since Thomas Case and John Ruskin were in Oxford around the same time and held similar interests, it is quite likely that they would have met.