Colonial Williamsburg acquires portrait of Revolutionary War officer

Colonial Williamsburg’s latest art acquisition highlights the story of someone who lived through the last major battle of the Revolutionary War.

The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg recently added to its collection an oil portrait of Major Patrick Campbell, a Scottish officer who served on the front lines of the Revolutionary War, fighting for Great Britain during the Siege of Yorktown.

The oil portrait of Major Campbell joins Colonial Williamsburg’s collection of other artifacts from the Battle of Yorktown, which includes maps such as Major General Marquis de Lafayette’s manuscript field map used during the Virginia Campaign, according to a news release. The collection also includes paintings of George Washington and his generals after the British army’s surrender at Yorktown.

Colonial Williamsburg Foundation President and CEO Mitchell Reiss said depicting the people who participated in pivotal Revolutionary War battles that took place just a short distance away from Williamsburg is a critical part of the Foundation’s educational mission.

“The exceptional portraits in our collection, such as that of Major Campbell, enable us to fulfill this duty in an authentic way,” Reiss said in the release.

Until the last few decades, the portrait was passed down through the family of Campbell’s sister, according to the release. Erik Goldstein, CW’s senior curator of mechanical arts and numismatics, and Laura Pass Barry, curator of paintings, drawings and sculpture, worked to add the painting to Colonial Williamsburg’s collection.

The portrait was painted in Scotland by an unidentified artist in late 1775 or early 1776, according to the release. In it, Campbell is shown in the uniform of the British army’s 71st Regiment. While fighting in the war, Campbell survived campaigns in New York, Philadelphia, Savannah and Yorktown before dying in New York City in 1782.

“Our goal is to tell the whole story of the Revolution in Virginia,” said Ronald Hurst, the Foundation’s Carlisle H. Humelsine chief curator and vice president for collections, conservation and museums. “Objects such as the portrait of Patrick Campbell allow us to put faces on the players and therefore humanize these events that changed the course of American history.”

For more information, visit colonialwilliamsburg.com/art-museums or call 888 965-7254.

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