Benjamin West, The Death of General Wolfe, 1770

The Seven Years’ War (1756-63) was fought by the European colonial powers and spanned the globe. In the pivotal Battle of Quebec in 1759 the British, led by General Wolfe, defeated the French. The fighting lasted an hour, during which Wolfe was fatally shot. In the painting we see Wolfe at the moment of his death surrounded by fourteen of his brothers in arms, of which only four were actually present at the battle. On the left side of the canvas we see a runner approaching waving a hat and holding the French flag, signaling that the battle had just been won. Wolfe looks much like Christ in the Lamentation, a common scene depicted in Christian churches, of which the British populace would have been familiar with. Wolfe was considered a national hero and is likened to a martyr.

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