Joseph Wilton

General James Wolfe

c. 1760
Wolfe’s capture of Quebec had made him a hero to the British, and Wilton was challenged to create a compelling image of the dead man that would be both recognizable and inspiring. After examining Wolfe’s body, brought back for burial, Wilton had a man who resembled Wolfe sit to him. The artist also studied any portraits he could find and settled on a quickly drawn sketch by one of the General's officers. Wolfe’s expression is fixed and his features strangely pronounced – perhaps due to the difficulties Wilton faced – contrasting with the restless surface of the elaborate costume. The armour – the wolf heads are a "rebus", a visual pun – and commanding pose dignify the sitter.
Title
General James Wolfe
Date
c. 1760
Medium
Sculpture
Materials
marble
Dimensions
74 x 56 x 31.8 cm
Nationality
British
Credit line
Bequest of the 6th Earl of Rosebery, Dalmeny House, West Lothian, Scotland, 1975
Accession number
18376