Study of Young Leaf Twigs; Bilberry
Date Made/Found: 1880-1885
, British, 1863 - 1943
Material and Medium: indian ink and watercolour on paper
Dimensions: Support: 191 x 90mm
Accession Number: CGSG00718
Records suggest that this study is one of a set of plant studies made under 'Ruskin's instruction'. There are several more of these studies at Whitelands College in London, where Ruskin also placed a small collection. They may have been carried out as part of Ruskin's research for 'Proserpina', a botanical book in which Ruskin wrote in detail about each section of the leaf and the importance of recording the 'biography' of each plant.
As the son of George Allen, an engraver whom Ruskin had previously employed to illustrate his books (and was now Ruskin’s publisher), Hugh Allen would have known Ruskin personally, and would have made the studies to Ruskin’s exact plans. If they were meant to be for engraved illustrations, his studies would not have needed colour. Even so, Ruskin’s ‘instruction’ for painting plants also started by learning to paint in black and white successfully, before moving on to colour.