Family hunt for Jesus painting they gave away

Mary Sharpe with a photo of the painting that she gave to Oxfam in Morningside in 1989 or 1990. Picture: Gordon Fraser
Mary Sharpe with a photo of the painting that she gave to Oxfam in Morningside in 1989 or 1990. Picture: Gordon Fraser
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A DESPERATE family is on the hunt for an oil painting of Jesus – which it donated to a charity shop more than two decades ago.

Mary Sharpe gave the picture, which once had pride of place in the family’s front room, to the Oxfam store on Morningside Road during a clear-out when she moved from the Capital to Brussels for work.

But the 55-year-old, who is perhaps appropriately from Holy Corner, is now eager to trace it as she believes it will bring back happy memories to her elderly mother who has dementia.

Ms Sharpe said today: “I can’t believe how stupid I was to give it up.

“That’s why if I can rectify it, I will.”

The 16in x 12in work of art was painted by a monk at Nunraw Abbey, in Haddington, for her father, William, who was a regular at the monastery.

It was later given to Mary by her mother, Nora, now 89. William, who worked as a pharmacist in the Capital, died when Mary was just ten and the painting became a sore reminder of his passing.

She said: “I think it was partly out of sadness that I got rid of it.

“It was donated in a moment of madness, enthusiastic spring cleaning I think.

“I was cleaning out my flat to go abroad, and decided to give the painting to Oxfam. My mother had given it to me and I thought it could go to a better home.

“Something came up about the painting in the family recently and I felt exquisitely embarrassed that I couldn’t produce it.”

The distinctive artwork was left at the charity shop some time during 1989 or 1990 before Mary moved to start a job at the European Commission.

She went on to study theology at Cambridge before returning to Edinburgh three years ago – and hopes this is where the painting remains.

Now Mary is offering a reward to anyone who can help her find the missing print of Christ.

She said: “I’ve changed my attitude about the painting and I really want it back. I’m aware of the power of spirit and think that sometimes these paintings can have an added value in terms of personal healing. Maybe not to everyone, but I think it is special to my family.

“Although my father was a scientist, he was very spiritual and interested in big ideas, discussing religion and theology with the monks. It would be so wonderful to get it back.

“My mum now has dementia and I think she would really like to see it and it would bring back pleasant memories for her.

“It might be lying in somebody’s bedroom or in an attic, or they’ve given it away.

“Somebody might have seen it or recognise it.”

Jean Wood, manager of the Morningside shop, has put up a poster to help in the hunt.

She said: “It’s usually the other way around with me finding something I think should be returned to a family that they didn’t mean to donate.”