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Anonymous, British school, attributed to Edmund Ashfield
fl. 1673–1700

Miniature portrait of an unknown man,believed to be John Milton

Watercolor on vellum

Oval, 2 1/4 x 1 13/16 inches (57 x 45 mm)

Gift of J. P. Morgan, Jr.


This portrait of a middle-aged man, costumed in a black buttoned vest, black gown, square white collar tied with strings and having two tassels below, is believed to depict John Milton at forty-eight years of age. According to John Aubrey, an early biographer of Milton, the poet's long hair was "abroun" or "reddish," and his "complexion exceeding fayre." This miniature may have been given by Milton to his second wife, Katherine Woodcock, whom he married in November 1656. She gave birth to a daughter in October 1657, but both mother and child died the following year. Woodcock is commemorated in Sonnet 23 as "my late espousèd saint." The miniature was bequeathed to Woodcock's niece and was handed down in direct succession through the Woodcock family.