The sketch shows the execution of Formosan passenger Hok-Seng Lau, a guard to the Formosan Royals It-Beng Sia and Bun-Lan Lim. The condemned man is seen hanging blindfolded from a mast with a firing line made up of four seamen (Henry Brennan, John Naples, Patrick O'Hagan and Aleksei Toporov) preparing to fire on him at the command of gunner Christian Wolff. Most of the crew, especially the officers, are present to witness the execution. The sketch is signed with the artist's initials in the lower left corner.
Depicted Edit35 people are depicted within the artwork, but only 31 can be highlighted. Working clockwise, and excluding those depicted in other artwork:
- Samuel Galligan, second mate's steward
- Zungi Sathi, ship's steward
- Duncan McKay, purser
- Henry Evans, surgeon
- Finley Dalton, helmsman
- Peter Milroy, midshipman
- Charles Hershtik, midshipman
- Thomas Lanke, midshipman
- Huang Li, topman
- Li Hong, topman
- Alfred Klestil, bosun
- Lars Linde, seaman
- Winston Smith, carpenter
- John Davies, fourth mate
- Davey James, fourth mate's steward
- Marcus Gibbs, carpenter's mate
- Wei Lee, topman
- Initials of Edward Spratt, artist
- Charles Miner, bosun's mate
- Henry Brennan, seaman
- Aleksei Toporov, seaman
- John Naples, seaman
- Patrick O'Hagan, seaman
- Christian Wolff, gunner
- Olus Wiater, gunner's mate
- Edward Nichols, second mate
- William Hoscut, first mate
- Robert Witterel, captain
- Martin Perrott, third mate
- Roderick Andersen, third mate's steward
- Paul Moss, first mate's steward
History EditSpratt drew the sketch as he was witnessing the execution in Murder, part 2. There are a number of differences between the sketch and the real scene.
- Cook Thomas Sefton and butcher Emil O'Farrell are not included in the sketch, probably because they were standing out of Spratt's field of view.
- Second Mate's Steward Samuel Galligan is depicted standing on the stairs to the poop deck, when he was in fact just behind Second Mate Edward Nichols, whispering to him.
- In the picture, Fourth Mate's Steward Davey James is watching the execution, when in reality he was covering his ears and turning away from the scene during the gunshot.
- Gunner's Mate Olus Wiater is depicted standing when in reality he was kneeling.
- Bosun Alfred Klestil was leaning against the crank when in the sketch he is not.
It is unclear how the sketch ended up in the possession of Surgeon Henry Evans. It does not seem to have suffered unduly from Evans' trip to Morocco in an open boat. The sketch is currently in the possession of the East India Company's chief inspector as an insert in a book about the fate of the Obra Dinn.