William Burton (1575-1645)
William Burton from Leicestershire was one of the leading antiquaries in the Midlands from 1590s to the 1650s. In 1622 he published The Description of Leicestershire. A ground-breaking study of the county’s history and antiquities, it was one of the earliest antiquarian studies of any English county. This painting is the earliest surviving likeness of him at the age of twenty-nine and the only surviving contemporary panel portrait of a pioneer of English antiquarianism.
The society’s three quarter length portrait shows Burton shortly after he had been called to the bar and some three years before marriage. He is flanked on the right by a depiction of a skeleton on a medallion.