James Wolfe

1 portrait

James Wolfe, after Joseph Wilton, (circa 1760) - NPG 2225 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

James Wolfe

after Joseph Wilton
bronze bust, (circa 1760)
29 3/4 in. (756 mm) high
Given by Sir (Robert) Leicester Harmsworth, 1st Bt, 1928
Primary Collection
NPG 2225


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Sitterback to top

  • James Wolfe (1727-1759), General; conqueror of Quebec. Sitter in 24 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • Joseph Wilton (1722-1803), Sculptor. Artist associated with 7 portraits, Sitter in 9 portraits.

This portraitback to top

General James Wolfe was killed leading the attack that seized Quebec from the French in 1759. In designing this posthumous bust, Wilton allegedly rushed to Portsmouth to have Wolfe's newly-landed coffin opened so he could sketch his face. Wilton found it 'too much distorted', and had to rely on association to create an idealised portrait of a hero: the classical tunic and armour of an ancient Roman soldier and, more specifically, the wolf motifs on the shoulders - a pun on the General's name. More detailed information on this portrait is available in a National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue, John Kerslake's Early Georgian Portraits (1977, out of print).

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