John Smibert
Portrait of Sir William Pepperell
Oil on Canvas
Peabody Essex Museum (text continues below image)


"This monumental portrait celebrates Pepperell's role as commander of the American colonial force that helped defeat the French at Louisbourg in 1745 during the French and Indian War. Painted by New England's first professional artist, the scene includes an image of cannon balls raining down on the French fort" (Quoted from ARTscape:

The victory over the French was a source of great pride for Britain, including colonial citizens who participated in the military victory. The expense of the campaign, however, further depleted royal coffers. England began to seek new ways to raise funds through taxation policies.

The subject of this portrait, William Pepperell (1696 - 1759), was the son of a prosperous merchant and land investor from Kittery Point, Maine (part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony). Pepperell married Mary Hirt of Boston in 1724, and was made a militia colonel of Maine in 1726. Pepperell's success in fighting the French in 1745 earned him a baronet from the King. The Massachusetts Historical Society holds manuscript papers related to Pepperell and the Louisbourg campaign.

Nathaniel Hawthorne used Pepperell as a literary subject for his works, Sir William Pepperell (1833) and Grandfather's Chair (1840).