The Death of Archbishop Sharpe by John Opie

James Sharp, was made Archbishop of St Andrews and Chancellor of the University of St Andrews in 1661.


Oil on canvas
224.8 x 174 cm
Art Fund grant:
£16,000 ( Total: £71,000)
Acquired in:
Private vendor

The painting depicts his assassination by a group of Presbyterian Fife Lairds in 1679, an event of key importance in the turbulent history of conflict between church and government in Scotland in the 17th century. Sharp was a former Presbyterian minister whose appointment as Archbishop was seen as a betrayal by most Presbyterians. It sparked the so-called 'Killing Time' of sectarian violence between Covenanters (extremist Presbyterians) and government troopers charged with enforcing Episcopalian rule.


Commissioned by Robert Bowyer, circa 1797; Peter Coxe, London, 1807; Christie's, 1984; private collection, New York.

Venue details

Museum of the University of St Andrews, MUSA 7A The Scores, ST ANDREWS Fife KY16 9AR 01334 461660

Entry details

Free to all

1 Nov – 31 Mar Thu – Sun, 12 – 4pm 1 Apr – 31 Oct Mon – Sat, 10am – 5pm Sun, 12 – 4pm