Arguably Ashbourne’s most famous artistic link, The Ashbourne Portrait is neither by an Ashbourne artist nor of an Ashbourne subject. The painting hangs in the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC (it isn’t of Shakespeare either).
The painting is dated 1611 and had a number of alterations to it before it first appears in 1847. The portrait was on sale in London and a friend of Clement Usill Kingston brought his attention to it. His friend couldn’t afford it but he advised Clement to buy it at all costs. Clement Kingston was the deputy head of the Grammar School. Kingston told all of this in a letter to a Shakespeare scholar saying that he had been told the painting was a genuine Shakespeare portrait. TheFolger Shakespeare Library purchased the painting in 1931. Subsequent experts have named the subject as either Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford or Sir Hugh Hamersley.