Oval, wood-framed profile of Captain Donald MacKinnon, Heanish, moulded from white wax in 1867. Captain MacKinnon was captain of the tea clipper ‘Taeping’ which won the Great China Tea Race of 1866. The portrait is believed to have been made by William Murray of Glasgow, whose daughter, Margaret Anne Murray, married Donald MacKinnon in 1855. William Murray is known to have made wax and plaster portraits of his relatives as gifts, and probably sent this one to Captain MacKinnon to celebrate his success in the race. After Captain MacKinnon died aboard ‘SS Roman’ in Table Bay, South Africa in 1867, the plaque was most likely still among his possessions aboard ‘Taeping’, and would have been retrieved by his wife when the ship returned to London.
The portrait hung on the wall of the donor’s mother’s home (near Oban?) for many years, from at least 1970 to 2015. The family connection is not certain although there is a Flora MacKinnon born around the 1760s in the family tree, and who may have been a relation of Captain MacKinnon’s grandfather.
When the portrait arrived at An Iodhlann, the wax was broken into many pieces and the label on the back had been cut out. It was sent to the Scottish Conservation Studio at Hopetoun House, Queensferry for restoration, where conservators discovered that there had been two previous attempts to repair it, once with candle wax and once with sellotape.