About this artwork

Sharp was educated at King's College, Aberdeen and became minister at Crail, a royal burgh in Fife, in 1649. During the Civil Wars he came to be seen as the leader of the more moderate and loyal wing of the Kirk. As a result he was briefly detained by Cromwell in the Tower of London. Following the restoration of Charles II in 1660, Sharp was appointed King's Chaplain and in 1661 consecrated Archbishop of St Andrews. Considered a traitor, he was detested by the Presbyterians. He survived one assassination attempt in 1668 but was ambushed on Magus Moor near St Andrews on 3 May 1679, dragged from his carriage and murdered.

  • title: James Sharp, 1618 - 1679. Archbishop of St. Andrews
  • accession number: PG 1529
  • artist: Sir Peter LelyEnglish (1618 - 1680)
  • after: Unknown
  • depicted: James Sharp
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Painting
  • subject: Religion and occultism
  • medium: Oil on canvas
  • date created: About 1664
  • measurements: 76.80 x 64.10 cm (framed: 89.50 x 77.00 x 4.50 cm)
  • credit line: Purchased 1949
  • photographer: Antonia Reeve

Sir Peter Lely

Sir Peter Lely

Lely was born in Soest, Germany, of Dutch parents. In 1637 he was registered as a pupil of Pieter de Grebber in his father's home town of Haarlem. He came to London in about 1643, and in 1647 painted the children of Charles I, in custody during the Civil War. By the end of the Commonwealth, he was the best-known portrait painter in England and, after the restoration of Charles II, he was appointed Principal Painter to the king in 1661. His society beauties are heavy-lidded and sensuous whilst his portraits of Admirals (National Maritime Museum) show a more serious side to his art. The output of his studio was huge, Lely relied heavily on assistants. He was knighted the year of his death.