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Early Stuart Portraits Catalogue

Elias Ashmole (1617-1692), Antiquary

Antiquary and astrologer; b. Lichfield; published the Theatrum chemicum Britannicum 1652, and The Institution, Laws and Ceremonies of the Most Noble Order of the Garter 1672, which earned him gold medals from the King of Denmark, the Elector Palatine and the elector of Brandenburg; catalogued the Tradescant collection 1652-56 (see John Tradescant the younger) and coins in the Bodleian Library 1658-66; Windsor herald 1660-75; MD Oxford 1669; after legal difficulties inherited the Tradescant collection in 1664 which, with his own collections, he offered to the University of Oxford in 1675, provided a proper building was erected to house them; the Ashmolean Museum opened in 1683.

‘When I was about a year old, and set by the fire, I fell into it, and burned the right side of my forehead, it resting upon the iron bar of the grate (of which a scar always remained’ (R. J. Gunter ed., The Diary and Will of Elias Ashmole, 1927, May 1618).

... not tall, but of an upright, slender and well-proportioned stature. He had ‘a good lovely face’ with a scar, good eyesight, beautiful eyes, and skilful hands. ‘His hair was a kinde of red and sandy colour’. ‘In his middle age’ he was ‘of a brown ruddy Complexion’ (William Lilly 1682, as recounted by C. H. Josten, Elias Ashmole, Biographical Introduction and Texts, 1966, I, p 26).


This extended catalogue entry is by John Ingamells, one of a limited number of entries drafted in 2010 for the incomplete catalogue, Early Stuart Portraits 1625-1685, and is as written then. For the most up-to-date details on individual Collection works, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text.