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Elias Ashmole (1617-1692), Antiquary
Sitter in 6 portraits
A lawyer in London in the years leading up to the civil wars, on the outbreak of war Ashmole moved to Oxford, where he became interested in astrology. After returning to London in 1646, he added botany, alchemy, anatomy, logic and medicine to his list of interests. He formed an important collection of astrological, medical and historical manuscripts, which was enormously enriched in 1659 when the famous botanist, John Tradescant, presented Ashmole with his natural history specimens. Ashmole donated his collection to Oxford University, on the condition that a building was constructed to house it. The resulting building, the Ashmolean Museum, opened in 1683, and was the country's first public museum.