In 2010, on this day at the Bonhams auction house in London, an unnamed Canadian collector paid $635,000 for Joseph Highmore's iconic painting of Governor General James Wolfe, pictured at the defining moment of his greatest triumph on the Plains of Abraham at Quebec with British North America symbolically subdued under his feet.
Old MasterThe battle was famously won by leading his troops up the wooded cliffs at night and catching his opposition unprepared. And yet the secret to his success was ruthlessness rather than tactical genious. In a letter to Major General Jeffrey Amherst titled "Wolfe's manifesto" he said ~
"If, by accident in the river, by the enemy's resistance, by sickness or slaughter in the army, or, from any other cause, we find that Quebec is not likely to fall into our hands (persevering however to the last moment), I propose to set the town on fire with shells, to destroy the harvest, houses and cattle, both above and below, to send off as many Canadians as possible to Europe and to leave famine and desolation behind me. But we must teach these scoundrels to make war in a more gentleman like manner".
It was a harsh lesson that Wolfe would teach the American rebels twenty years later.