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

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.

Provenance

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


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