Woodcut print: "William Burke, the Notorious Murderer"

Woodcut print: "William Burke, the Notorious Murderer"

$125.00

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Arrives by Oct 29-Nov 4 if you order today.
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Oct 29-Nov 4

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  • Handmade
  • Materials: ink, Japanese gampi paper

  • Height: 18 inches
  • Width: 10 inches

This original woodcut by Philadelphia-based artist James Mundie is a limited edition of 50 printed on Awagami Kitakata, a warm-toned Japanese gampi paper. Each sheet is printed by hand through pressure applied with a bamboo spoon.

This print started as a drawing in my sketchbook during my last visit to Edinburgh. For the woodcut, I enlarged and transferred the drawing to the block along with the text from the original specimen label. In keeping with the practice of the time, anatomists frequently cataloged their specimens according to gender, ethnicity, and trade. So here Burke, a native of County Tyrone, was displayed as an example of an Irish male as well as a notorious criminal.

William Burke, the Notorious Murderer

In the 1820s, Edinburgh was the leading center for the study of human anatomy. Scottish law, however, limited the study of cadavers to criminals, suicides, and orphans. There simply were not enough corpses to fill demand, so anatomists frequently turned to grave-robbing "resurrection men" to supply the dissection tables of their anatomy theatres.

When a lodger in William Hare's house died in November 1827 owing Hare back rent, his friend William Burke suggested they sell the body to recoup the debt. They found a buyer in Dr. Robert Knox, from whom they received a generous £7 10s. Encouraged by this windfall, but finding grave robbery to be dangerous and dirty work, Burke and Hare decided instead that murder was preferable as it left a fresher corpse to earn a higher fee.

For a period of ten months, and possibly aided by their wives, Burke and Hare murdered sixteen people, all of whom they sold to Knox for his lectures. Knox approved of the freshness of the bodies and without asking further questions paid £10 for each. Burke’s and Hare’s scheme was ruined when boarding house lodgers uncovered the body of their final victim, Margaret Docherty, before it could be sold.

Hare was granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for his confession and turning king's evidence. He testified against Burke, who was found guilty of murder and hanged before an enormous crowd on 28 January 1829. Alexander Monro, known as "tertius" because he was the third member of his family with that name to serve as chair of anatomy for the University of Edinburgh, dissected Burke's corpse in his lecture four days later, during which he wrote a note with a quill dipped in Burke's blood. Burke's skeleton was prepared and later placed on display in the Anatomical Museum, and his skin tanned and used to bind at least one book.

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Estimated arrival

The estimated delivery date is based on your purchase date, the recipient's location (actual or inferred), the seller's processing time and location, and the shipping carrier.

Other factors—such as shipping carrier delays or placing an order on weekend/holiday—may push the arrival of your item beyond this date.

Learn more

Oct 29-Nov 4

Oct 21

Order placed

After you place your order, MundieArt will take 3-5 business days to prepare it for shipment.

Oct 26-28

Order ships

MundieArt puts your order in the mail.

Oct 29-Nov 4

Delivered!

Estimated to arrive at your doorstep Oct 29-Nov 4!

Cost to ship

Free

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Ships from Philadelphia, PA
Kate Kern Mundie

Kate Kern Mundie

Owner of MundieArt

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66 shop reviews

5 out of 5 stars
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Michelle Lecatsas Jun 2, 2020

5 out of 5 stars

What an outstanding piece of artwork! As I saw him emerging from tiny shavings of wood to this magickal creature, I knew I wanted him to live at my house. The Mundies have an incredible way of making each piece of their craft come TO LIFE! Thank you for the fast send off! I absolutely love and cherish it! 💓

Purchased item:

autumnmoon68 Dec 7, 2020

5 out of 5 stars

My husband and I love this! I made a narrow matting out of red glitter scrapbook paper and put it in a simple frame. It came out fantastic! (My image is pixely not the actual item)

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Hanna König Feb 16, 2021

5 out of 5 stars

I'm absolutely in love! He's so beautiful! 🖤

Purchased item:

Bob Schmid Dec 26, 2020

5 out of 5 stars

Amazing details!! can tell when you look at this print,the mass amount of time that went into it. Truly a beautiful piece of art. Very nice people as well to deal with, very responsive!! Usps was and still is slammed during this holiday, it's of their control once they ship it. I was delighted the print arrived on time. Thank you 😌

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