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Elias Ashmole

(1617-1692), Antiquary

Early Stuart Portraits Catalogue Entry

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.

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Elias Ashmole, after John Riley - NPG 1602

Elias Ashmole

after John Riley
oil on canvas, feigned oval, based on a work of 1687-1689
NPG 1602

Elias Ashmole, after William Faithorne - NPG D29108

Elias Ashmole

after William Faithorne
line engraving, published 1797
NPG D29108

Elias Ashmole, after Unknown artist - NPG D29107

Elias Ashmole

after Unknown artist
hand-coloured stipple and aquatint engraving, early 19th century
NPG D29107

Elias Ashmole, after Unknown artist - NPG D29106

Elias Ashmole

after Unknown artist
stipple engraving, published 1824
NPG D29106

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Graham McClure-Hall

18 June 2022, 07:12

It would appear that the "Ark" collection was ultimately possessed by Tradescant's mother given by her son John in his will. He wished it to be given to Oxford/Cambridge university. However his friend, Ashmole ,claimed the collection had been given to him by John through a deed of gift. A protracted legal squabble between Ashmole and the widow Tredescant lasted a decade. During this, some of the "Ark" treasure was sold. ( Jean-Paul Marat is alleged to have possessed a good necklace from it.) Ashmole finally won possession.