It has been over 30 years since I first set foot in this amazing museum. I went as a newly arrived student full of wonder at the world that was opening up to me. My new found independence was a treasure in its own right and I used it to explore all the things I had not previously experienced. The Ashmolean was high on my list. I little thought, back in the 80s, that it would take so long to return.
The museum is world famous and has its place in history as the first University museum, dating back to 1677 when Elias Ashmole gave his cabinet of curiosities to the University of Oxford. It is like a small version of the British Museum with a wing of the National Gallery added. In my visit, I was keen to see painting and sculpture but also to see what else was on offer.
Top of my list was Alessandro Allori’s ‘Portrait of a Young Man’. The painting of an unknown young man shows him as a person of refinement and education, illustrated by the items in the picture such as a sculpture in the background and the medal in his hand.
Next was ‘A Converted British Family Sheltering a Christian Missionary from the Persecution of the Druids’ by William Holman Hunt. This painting, exhibited in 1850, shows a missionary being rescued while, in the background, his companion is taken.
The Ashmolean Museum is in my hinterland. What’s in yours?