Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Benjamin West, painter

This week in the mail I received a financial solicitation from the National Gallery of Canada regarding the purchase of the original frame of the painting entitled The Death of General Wolfe by Benjamin West, 1770. See
In 1918 Hugh Lord Grosvenor the 2nd Duke of Westminster gave this painting to Canada in recognition of our heroic contribution to Victory during the First World War as part of what was then called the War Memorials. The painting has become an unofficial national treasure.

The Neoclassical frame was made in London in the same period as the painting. It is carved with various classical motifs, has its original matte and burnished water gilding. For unknown reasons we only got the painting and not the frame. So the National Gallery of Canada now wants to purchase the frame so it can be reunited with the painting.

Death of General James Wolfe, on the Plains of Abraham, September 1759, Quebec City

It is a very interesting picture and depicts the moment of the death of Wolfe as a messenger arrives to inform him that the British forces have won the battle. General Wolfe was 32 years old. By today's standard he would be considered a War criminal but then he lived in the 18th century when such concepts simply did not exist. Of course in French Canada, General Wolfe is a controversial figure as much as the Marquis de Montcalm, commander of the French Army at the Plains of Abraham is seen as a figure to pity, he too died at the battle. Whereas Wolfe is buried at Greenwich in the Church of the Naval Academy in London, Montcalm's body is in a Mausoleum in the Cemetery of the Hôpital Général de Québec. He was previously buried at the Ursulines Convent in a bomb crater.

1 comment:

  1. I've seen this painting many times but not in person. The Battle of Quebec is in my book "100 decisive battles of history".