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The Battle of the Boyne (painting)

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Title: The Battle of the Boyne (painting)  
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Subject: William III of England, Frederick Schomberg, 1st Duke of Schomberg, Benjamin West, Battle of the Boyne
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

The Battle of the Boyne (painting)

The Battle of the Boyne
Artist Benjamin West
Year 1778
Type Oil on canvas

The Battle of the Boyne is a 1778 painting by the Anglo-American artist Benjamin West.[1] It portrays the Battle of the Boyne which took place in Ireland in 1690.

West became a celebrated figure for his 1770 work The Death of General Wolfe, which portrayed General James Wolfe's death during the fight for Quebec in 1759. His historical paintings brought him to national attention and he became a leading member of the Royal Academy. West was influenced by neoclassicism and attempted to portray scenes that drew an emotional response, rather than being historically accurate.

West's 1778 work portrays the fighting at the Boyne, part of the Williamite War in Ireland (1689-91). The battle was a decisive victory for the Williamites over James II's Jacobite Irish Army, leading to the capture of the Irish capital city Dublin. The Boyne had come to occupy an important position in Irish Protestant culture by the time West painted his work. The dominant image of the painting is William of Orange crossing the River Boyne. West's portrayal of the King became influential on subsequent images of William, particularly his use of a white horse.[2]

In the bottom right corner the death of Marshal Schomberg, the second-in-command of William's Army, is portrayed. Schomberg had crossed the Boyne earlier than William and had been killed by Jacobite cavalry in the melee around Oldbridge ford. West transformed Schomberg's chaotic death into a tableau, one that has strong similarities to other heroic death scenes in West's paintings, such as General Wolfe or Horatio Nelson in The Death of Nelson (1806).


  1. ^ Carlton p.x
  2. ^ Nordstrom p.193


  • Carlton, Charles. This Seat of Mars: War and the British Isles, 1485-1746. Yale University Press, 2011.
  • Nordstrom, Carolyn. The Paths to Domination, Resistance, and Terror. University of California Press, 1992.
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