The Death of General Wolfe

  • About the work
    Location
    Country: Canada
    City: Ottawa
    Place: British High Commission

    This scene represents the death of British General James Wolfe, during the Battle of Quebec, in 1759. The dying General is being watched and attended to by his concerned comrades. When the original work was painted, this subject was a recent event of military history. However, such a depiction of an almost contemporary scene, including characters in current clothing, was unusual for history paintings of the time. The original work, painted in 1770, is now in the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. William Woollett began to make an engraving after the painting in 1772, accepting a third share in publication costs. The print was a great success and made a considerable profit for the engraver.

  • About the artist
    Benjamin West was born in Springfield, Pennsylvania. He received some training, probably from John Valentine Haidt, before travelling to Italy in 1760. Whilst there, West met German painter and art critic Anton Raphael Mengs and Scottish history painter Gavin Hamilton. In 1763, he settled in London and exhibited mainly historical subjects, which were well received. In 1772, he became historical painter to King George III and, in 1791, surveyor of the King's pictures - a lucrative position. A founding member of the Royal Academy, West exhibited there from 1769 to 1819 and succeeded Sir Joshua Reynolds as President. As well as painting history subjects, he also painted portraits and landscapes and designed stained-glass.
  • Explore
    People
    Wolfe, JamesFraser, Simon, Master of Lovat
    Materials & Techniques
    engraving
  • Details
    Title
    The Death of General Wolfe
    Date
    published 1 January 1776
    Medium
    Engraving
    Acquisition
    Acquisition uncertain
    GAC number
    11939