Treasure's description

The collector

The collector

In this engraving of his deceased patron, Edward Harley, second Earl of Oxford, George Vertue drew upon a portrait by Michael Dahl and surrounded his subject with symbols of the magnificent collections acquired by Harley and his father, Robert. Their manuscripts became one of the foundation collections of the British Museum but, sadly, the other treasures, including the unrivalled accumulation of printed books and pamphlets, were dispersed. We may imagine the figures in the charming vignette of the commodious library to represent Swift and Pope, or perhaps Prior, who were among the literary friends of the Earl.