The Death Of General Wolfe

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Benjamin West, The Death of General Wolfe, 1770
By KARL SHEERAN

Good day to you sir, how are you on this fine London morning? May I interest you in this exquisite artwork, The Death of General Wolfe by Benjamin West? It exemplifies the glory and majesty of Great Britain during the Seven Years’ War. Oh excuse me, you are French? Well then I am sorry but you lack the capability to fully appreciate the beauty and elegance of Benjamin West.

Observe how the General lays on the ground. He looks up to the clear sky, up to the heavens as Christ did when he was brought down from the cross. The British flag leans to the right, as did the Cross itself after Jesus’ crucifixion. His lieutenant sits by his side, dressed in a somber blue, clutching a starch white handkerchief to where the General appears to have suffered a grievous wound but take notice of how clean his shit remains. As Our Lord was crucified upon the cross, Roman soldiers skewered him several times in his abdomen but it is said that he bled clean, pure water. General Wolfe oddly enough lacks a suspicious amount of blood stains but perhaps he bleeds water.

While the dear General lays on the ground, his concerned soldiers surround him, eleven of them if I am correct, in addition to an enemy Indian. Each of the soldiers represent one of the Disciples of Christ while the Indian is Judas. The enemy becomes a friend. He first conspires and fights against General but ultimately is concerned about his well being.  They all share expressions of sorrow on their faces at the death of their general.  


Brooding clouds encroach upon the clear sky, surrounding the landscape in darkness at the death of General Wolfe.  What more could you ask for in a painting depicting the heart-wrenching death of the unsurpassed in prowess general.  Benjamin West portrays Wolfe as a martyr for Her Majesty's empire, much as Christ died in the name of his Father and for the sake of the people.  Normally, I would say to you, "Oh this piece would make a marvelous addition to your estate" but to you, my dear Frenchman, go back to your croissants and baguettes, leave the finery to the English.

Editor's Note: The authors were asked to write sales copy for Edme-François Gersaint, the prominent rococo art dealer who offered a printed catalog of available works.

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