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The Death of General WolfeEnlarge image

The Death of General Wolfe, 1770

Benjamin West
American, British, 1738 - 1820
oil on canvas
152.6 x 214.5 cm
Transfer from the Canadian War Memorials, 1921 (Gift of the 2nd Duke of Westminster, England, 1918)
National Gallery of Canada (no. 8007)

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.

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