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Elias Ashmole

Painted by John Riley (1646-1691); oil on canvas, 124 x 101 cm

Elias Ashmole (1617-1692), whose gift to the University of Oxford in 1683 formed the basis of the Ashmolean Museum in Broad Street is portrayed with objects reflecting his scholarly interests as an antiquary and herald. The book, Ashmole of the Garter, represents his Institution, Laws and Ceremonies of the most Noble Order of the Garter (1672). The medals (Praemia honoraria), carefully depicted, no doubt at Ashmole's request, are a filigree chain and portrait medallion of Frederick William, Elector of Brandenburg (worn by the sitter); a portrait medal of Karl Ludwig of Bavaria; the George of the Order of the Garter which had belonged to Thomas Howard, 2nd Earl of Arundel and which was given to Ashmole by the Earl Marshal; and another chain and medal, given by the King of Denmark. It is likely that the portrait was painted in 1681-2 for presentation to the new museum in Oxford. The spectacular frame was carved by Grinling Gibbons (1648-1720), for whom Ashmole cast a horoscope in 1682. It is surmounted by Ashmole's arms and his motto, EX UNO OMNIA ('all things come from one').

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