'The Death of General Wolfe' by Benjamin West

Image courtesy of the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

Click on image for larger view


Benjamin West painted this picture 11 years after the fact in 1770 and 10 of the men pictured were not even at the battle. The important aspect for re-enactors and historians today is that like most artists today, West acquired props as reference to help with the accuracy of his painting. Even during the painting, several influential people, including Sir Joshua Reynolds, instructed him to dress the figures in classical attire, which West refused to do, and after its completion, George III refused to purchase it because the clothing compromised the dignity of the event. The work, however, eventually overcame all objections and helped inaugurate more accurate depictions in historical painting. An engraving of 'The Death of Wolfe' done by William Woolett in 1776 shows this gun in better detail. The colors in the engraving differ from the original painting since printing inks did not have the variety of colors that paints could be mixed in and printers often used their choices when selecting colors.


The  trade gun depicted in the painting and the engraving appears to be a typical English style with a 30" barrel and has an entry thimble and only one forward thimble.





William Woolett's engraving taken from the

painting 'The Death of General Wolfe'


Detail from the engraving