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William Shirley

Thomas Hudson, 1701 - 1779
William Shirley, 1694 - 24 Mar 1771
Oil on canvas
Stretcher: 127 x 101.6 x 3.8cm (50 x 40 x 1 1/2")
Frame: 144.8 x 122.2 x 7cm (57 x 48 1/8 x 2 3/4")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Object number
Exhibition Label
Appointed colonial governor of Massachusetts in 1741, William Shirley spent much of the next fifteen years in military and diplomatic engagements with the French. After war broke out between England and France in 1744, Shirley won an important victory by orchestrating a successful attack on the French stronghold at Louisbourg, Nova Scotia. This portrait by distinguished English painter Thomas Hudson-with a background that recalls this famous naval conquest-was painted in London while Shirley was participating in boundary negotiations with the French following the war's end in 1748. In 1755, at the outset of the French and Indian War, King George II promoted Shirley to commander of British forces in North America. He lost this position and his governorship a year later, however, after failing to halt French advances.
Cornelia King Marsh, Mt. Kisco, New York, descendant of sitter; purchased 1979 NPG
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
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National Portrait Gallery Collection