In 1869, the Slade Lectures were founded in pursuance of the will of art collector and philanthropist Felix Slade. Slade left his collections to the nation, and founded chairs of fine art at Oxford, Cambridge and University College London. John Ruskin was the first Slade Professor of Fine Art in Oxford, and gave the first series of eight public lectures in 1870. In his inaugural lecture, he announced that he was setting up the Ruskin School of Drawing, which is now the Ruskin School of Art.
Each year, the Department of History of Art plays host to the Slade Professor of Fine Art, who is always a figure of international standing in the study of the visual arts. The annual lecture series continues to focus on art historical topics, and takes place in weeks 1-8 in Hilary Term.