The Original Ashmole Watercolor for Ackermann's Oxford

“Elias Ashmole, Esq, Founder of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford”.

[ca. 1813].

Price: $2,500.00

About the item

Harding, George P. Pena and ink and watercolor on paper. 1 vols. Image size is 6 x 5 inches; including border and thin gilt frame, the overall dimemsions are 14 x 9 1/2 inches. The Original Ashmole Watercolor for Ackermann's Oxford. Very faint waterstaining to the lower right corner, well away from the image, the frame's gilt a little rubbed in places, else fine.

Item #12958

A fine watercolor rendering, based on Ashmole's Foundation Portrait by John Riley at Oxford's Ashmolean Museum, and used as a plate in Ackermann's The History of the University of Oxford, 1814.

The watercolor follows Riley very closely, but there are differences: the subject's hand rests on a shorter book, lowering the angle of the arm, there is no ring on the left hand, there are slight differences in costume, and the subject's face appears thinner, giving the impression of a younger man. Beneath the image is lettered in black ink, “Elias Ashmole Esqr. / Founder of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.” Below this, in the large bottom margin is written in pencil, “The Original Drawing by Geo. P. Harding executed for Ackermann, published in The History of the University of Oxford, 2 vols 1814.”

Elias Ashmole (1617-1692), scholar, courtier, antiquary, heraldric authority and author of The Institution, Laws, and Ceremonies of the Order of the Garter (1672), inherited, through his friendship with John Tradescant, keeper of the botanical gardens at Chelsea, and his widow, a large collection of artifacts and curiosities, which he offered to Oxford with the stipulation that the University provide a building to house it which, in 1682, it did. (This building, in Oxford's Broad Street, is now the home of The Museum of the History of Science). Thus, while he did not form the collection which bears his name, it was he who catalogued it, brought it to Oxford, ensured its survival, and set the Ashmolean Museum on the path to becoming the world-class institution it is today.