The Death of General Wolfe by Benjamin West

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The Death of General Wolfe by Benjamin West

Painting NameThe Death of General Wolfe
Painter NameBenjamin West
Completion Date1770
Size151 cm × 213 cm (59 in × 84 in)
TechniqueOil
MaterialCanvas
Current LocationNational Gallery of Canada Ottawa

This historical painting represents the death of British General Wolfe who fought in the Seven Years War and after his death, became the lead hero of the war. His novice military training techniques and fighting tactics helped big at conquering Quebec from the French and ultimately winning over the whole Canada.

This 1770 painting, before America became independent, though portrays the fall of a soldier but indirectly represents the triumph in the war. There are two indicators included in the painting for that. Above Wolfe’s body is the flag which still is standing. Other indicator is the minor figure on the far left. A soldier is running towards the scene raising one hand and holding the flag in another. He is carrying the message of winning. He is about to say that the French who had occupied Canada were being defeated. His figure is placed in the background with modest importance in the scene. He is just a reminder about the triumph over Canada with big help from Wolfe’s leadership.

To recognize the prominent figures in the painting, you can visit our special post, Who is who: The Death of General Wolfe. It shows the names and a brief information about each character.

Though, one thing to note is that, there are total of 14 main figures displayed out of which only four were originally present at the battleground.

In the scene, surrounding people look concerned and dismayed. Everyone’s in a shock to see General Wolfe at his deathbed. General Wolfe seems semiconscious. His eyes are towards the light source which brightening his body. The man in blue coat on his right is a doctor called Thomas Hinde, who was trying to help him.

Other figures are members of the army with different hierarchical status. Everyone being equally anxious. Though, two distinctive figures are on the left side. The indigenous man is sitting in the similar thinking style of the statue The Thinker by Rodin. He also looks worried. The second man is in Green overcoat above the indigenous person. His one hand is pointing towards the man coming from behind with the news of conquer. The peak of tower visible above the war-smoke is an indication of the defeat the home team was facing.

Thus, this painting represents a big story from the Canada’s and England’s past. It is famous painting in America. Its current location is National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa.

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