The Death of General Wolfe – (Benjamin West) Previous Next


Artist:

Topic: Death Birth And Death

Date: 1770

Size: 151 x 213 cm

Museum: National Gallery of Canada (Canada)

Technique: Painting

The Death of General Wolfe is a well-known 1770 painting by Anglo-American artist Benjamin West depicting the death of British General James Wolfe during the 1759 Battle of Quebec of the Seven Years' War. It is an oil on canvas of the Enlightenment period. West made an additional and nearly identical painting of the same scene for King George III in 1771. On the ground in front of Wolfe is his musket, his cartridge box, and bayonet. Wolfe went into battle armed as his men were, although his musket was of higher quality. His dress is also of note. He is wearing a fairly simple red coat, a red waistcoat, red breeches, and a white shirt. Such dress was rather simple, especially for a commanding officer. Next, to Wolfe in the blue jacket is Dr. Thomas Hinde who is checking the pulse of the general. The general later died in the doctor's hands. In the background, and to the Left of the men surrounding Wolfe, an approaching runner is depicted. He is waving his hat in one hand to attract their attention, and with the other hand carries a captured flag with the Fleur-de-lis (a symbol of France) - symbolic of the news relayed to the dying Wolfe that the French were being defeated. The inclusion of Simon Fraser, Lieutenant Colonel of the 78th Fraser Highlanders (behind the Rogers Ranger, who is wearing green) is interesting, as General Wolfe had always spoken highly of Fraser's regiment, yet Fraser was not at the battle, as he was recovering from wounds received earlier. In the painting, Fraser wears the Fraser tartan, which was probably worn by officers in that regiment. All in all only four of the fourteen men depicted were actually at the battleground.

This artwork is in the public domain.

Artist

Benjamin West

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