Thursday, September 13, 2012

French and Indian War Gallery by Howard Pyle

Howard Pyle was one of the most important American illustrators during the late 1800s-early 1900s.  He wrote and illustrated Men of Iron and Robin Hood, among other projects.  He also influeced one of my personal favorite artists, N. C. Wyeth.  Pyle was commissioned several different times to paint scenes from the French and Indian War (1754-1763).  Note: all pictures included here are, as far as I know, in the public domain.  Pyle died in 1911.

This collection opens with young Major Washington and his dejected troops trudging back to Virginia after their defeat at Fort Necessity.  Fort Necessity only opened the war, however, and soon General Braddock and the 44th and 48th were sent to expel the French.  On July 9, 1755, Braddock's troops, led by the grenadiers, collided with the French and Indians.  In a two-hour long battle, Braddock was mortally wounded and taken from the battlefield in a cart.  He died and was buried four days later.

The French had defeated Braddock, but the days of their empire were numbered.  In 1758, General Jeffrey Amherst captured the fortress of Louisbourg, key to the Saint-Lawrence.  In this painting, an officer of the Volontaires-Etrangers negotiates with the British officers regarding the surrender of Louisbourg.

One year later, General James Wolfe would besiege Quebec, defended by General Marquis de Montcalm.  On September 13, the two generals and their armies would fight on the Plains of Abraham.  Wolfe died before the battle had finished, but the wounded Montcalm lingered until September 14.  In this painting, Montcalm rides into the city through the Saint-Louis gate.  A crowd of frantic civilians swarms around him and the remnants of the French force.  But Montcalm's arm is up, as though to still the tumult.  "It is nothing, it is nothing, do not cry for me, my good friends."

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