The Ashmolean Museum first opened its doors in 1683 to display to the public the collection Elias Ashmole (1617-92) had bequeathed to the University of Oxford. Curiosities and specimens, both natural and man-made, had been collected by royal gardener and traveller, John Tradescant, and had grown into a major resource before passing to Ashmole by deed of gift.
The following centuries saw acquisitions, benefactions, and mergers of collections, most notably in 1908 when the University Art Collection was combined with the original museum's archaeological holdings, to create the Ashmolean as it is today.
The museum now houses a unique mix of thousands of objects, photographs, drawings and paintings, covering almost the entire span of human history from antiquity to the 20th century. Among its numerous treasures are paintings by J.M.W. Turner, the Pre-Raphaelites and the Impressionists, while portraits of eminent personalities from history include those of Flora Macdonald and Thomas Carlyle.
Other notable treasures at the Ashmolean include a vast collection of Eastern Art and Islamic pottery, Japanese prints and exquisite 19th century Indian paintings. Mary Evans Picture Library are pleased to offer not only the Ashmolean fine art images but also a full range of pictures visually representing the rest of this fascinating museum.