The Art of …

… history, by Benjamin West.

Today’s painting is interactive thanks to Jason Farago of the New York Times and his piece titled “The Myth of North America in one painting.” It’s a fascinating look at the history behind West’s 1770 painting The Death of General Wolfe, and why certain design choices were made. The battle the painting depicts on The Plains of Abraham is highly significant to Canada’s founding and is taught as part of our school curriculum. There were also implications for America’s founding, though, and I’m curious about how, or if, this battle is taught to American children.

Here is the link to the interactive painting at NYT, and below is the static image of the painting itself.

The Death of General Wolfe, 1770, Benjamin West. Static image from Wikipedia.


  1. Some Old Programmer says

    FWIW, and as far as I can recall, the US history I learned in the 1970’s didn’t teach this battle; I do remember that the French and Indian war was cited as a cause for taxes levied by the crown on the colonies, and was thus an impetus for the revolution.

  2. StevoR says

    FWIW. We certainly weren’t taught about this in Australian schools but I do recall reading about it in an old Ladybird kids history book on Admiral Horatio Nelson’s life.

    Remarkably, (unrealistically I’d presume) clean and calm battle scene ain’t it?

  3. voyager says

    Some Old Programmer
    Thanks. It sounds like you were taught the basics as it applied to your country. In Canada, we have ongoing difficulties between the French and the English dating back to this battle.

    Yup. What I read said that the artist was trying to portray Wolfe in the same manner as Christ after being taken down from the cross. The battle is in the background and the foreground is meant to be serene. The artist influenced the way that historical paintings

Leave a Reply