The death of an English hero in the war for Canada

The Death of General James Wolfe (1727-1759) by Benjamin West

A quick and defining battle took place on a plateau just outside the walls of Quebec, on 13 September 1759, after a three-month long siege by the British and Americans against the French and Canadian occupants of the city.

The price of victory

The dramatic conclusion occurred in a little over 15 minutes that day. The French resistance had crumbled and Britain had taken a huge leap forward in its quest for Atlantic domination.
 
Yet, unbeknown to many of the British troops, the victory was marred by tragedy: within the opening minutes of the engagement, the iconic British commander, General James Wolfe, had been wounded by gunshot. Rejecting medical attention, he gave his last commands and died.
 

Painting of a hero

This well-known painting by Benjamin West at Ickworth, over two metres wide, depicts the intense emotional contrasts on the momentous day in the Seven Years' War that earned Wolfe the status of a patriotic martyr.
 
For the remainder of the eighteenth century, as Britain battled in the Americas, the story of 'The Death of Wolfe' became thoroughly ingrained in the popular imagination. A raft of images relating to the event was produced. The most notable of these, without doubt, is this picture: Benjamin West's epic canvas of 1770.