18 May 2020

The Ashmolean is sad to announce the death of Dr Jon Whiteley.  Jon joined the Museum in 1978 as Assistant Keeper in the Department of Western Art. In a career of 36 years at the Ashmolean he was a dedicated teacher to generations of Oxford students; one of the country’s most distinguished art historians; and a well-loved colleague and friend to everyone who knew and worked with him.


‘Over the centuries many individuals have helped shape the Ashmolean. Among them there are a few whose spirit still courses through the veins of the institution. Jon is one of those. The Ashmolean lived in Jon’s bones – to hear him speak about almost any aspect of the Museum’s history or its collections was always both inspiring and somewhat daunting in its demonstration of the depth and range of his knowledge, attention and thought. But even now, at this sad time, Jon still lives at the Ashmolean. He is there in the collections that he helped shape, but he is there too in the friendly welcome in the Print Room, in the work of our Learning department, in our concerts and our scholarship and what I hope is both our sense of public duty and an understanding of the importance of personal relationships both within institutions and in the way institutions relate to the world. By the time I arrived at the Museum a little over five years ago Jon had apparently retired. In the years since he not only continued to give lectures and talks, contribute to exhibition catalogues, give freely of his advice and knowledge, but he also wrote a complete catalogue of the collection of French paintings after 1800 which, with typical diligence and timing, he completed just before he fell ill. The catalogue will be published next year.

We will miss Jon. He is much loved and our thoughts are with his wife, Linda, and his family, at this sad and difficult time.’
Dr Xa Sturgis, Director of the Ashmolean


The Press & Journal, Aberdeen, 20 May 2020
The Hollywood Reporter, 20 May 2020
The Daily Telegraph, 22 May 2020
The Times, 26 May 2020
The Oxford Times & Mail, 28 May 2020
independent.co.uk, 4 June 2020
The Scotsman, 5 June 2020