[ Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe, Scottish antiquary and artist. ] Watercolour drawing of Edinburgh murderer Mrs Mary Mackinnon with a young girl in her condemned cell, attributed to him in a contemporary hand.

Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe (1781-1851), Scottish antiquary, artist and collector, and friend of Sir Walter Scott
Publication details: 
Without date or place. (Mackinnon was hanged 16 April 1823.)
SKU: 17187

A watercolour drawing in ink, coloured in yellow, blue and red, against a sepia ground. The drawing is on a 24.5 x 18.5 cm piece of thick white paper, laid down on a 28.5 x 29.5 cm piece of grey paper. In good condition, with light signs of age. In pencil in a contemporary hand on the grey-paper mount: 'Mrs Mackinnon - hanged | done by Charles K. Sharpe Esq | She had been a great beauty | murdered a man'. The drawing is not signed, but is in much the same style as other examples of his watercolours (for example those in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London). Sharpe's entry in the Oxford DNB describes him as 'a draughtsman and painter of more than amateur skill', and the present item bears this out, depicting a portly barefoot Mackinnon in her prison cell, her boots on a bench, dressed in a red petticoat with a striped shawl over her shoulders and a bonnet on her head, with her back to the viewer, looking into a mirror in which a portrait of her concerned face can be seen. Standing beside her is a fresh-faced young girl in slippers, looking towards the viewer. The mirror is placed on a laundry basket, perhaps suggesting that Mackinnon is dressing for her execution. Mary Mackinnon or M'Innes was executed 16 April 1823 (and then dissected) for the murder on 8 February of the same year, of William Howat, in her public house and brothel on the South Bridge, Edinburgh.