The Death of General Wolfe
Benjamin West (1738-1820)
Oil on canvas, 1770
152.6 x 214.5 cm
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
To depict the death of Wolfe at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759, West grouped the figures around the fallen general as in a Lamentation of Christ. The artist rejected the convention of representing contemporary heros in antique armour (see Joseph Wilton’s marble bust of Wolfe), paying scrupulous attention to the details of their uniforms, and to the native costumes based on Woodlands aboriginal artifacts in his possession. The picture created a sensation at the Royal Academy in London, in 1771.