Westminster Abbey, London: Monument to Major-General James Wolfe, public commission, 1759, unexecuted (11)
Major-General James Wolfe (1727-59) was the elder son of Lieutenant-General Edward Wolfe (1685-59). In February 1759 he sailed from Spithead to command the British forces in Canada. He died in battle from three gun-shot wounds five days before the surrender of Quebec (18 September 1759), and was hailed a national hero who had given his life for a triumphant victory. As such, an official commission for a monument in Westminster Abbey was made, for which Robert Adam, William Chambers (1722-96), and the sculptor Joseph Wilton (1722-1803) all submitted designs. This was Adam's first design for a funerary monument - no doubt lured by the fame that a public commission of this sort would give him - and among the extant drawings there are six variant designs. Each makes use of a relief panel showing Wolfe's death. Neither Adam's nor Chambers' designs for the Wolfe monument were accepted, the commission being awarded instead to Wilton.
There are six monuments in Westminster Abbey designed by Robert Adam: to the Duchess of Northumberland, Roger Townshend, John André, James Thomson, Mary Hope and William Dalrymple.
Literature: A.T. Bolton, The architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1922, Volume II, Index p. 51; J. Lees-Milne, The age of Adam, 1947, p. 26; D. King, The complete works of Robert & James Adam and unbuilt Adam, 2001, Volume II, pp. 261-3