Colonial Williamsburg acquires portrait of British military officer

The latest addition to Colonial Williamsburg’s art collection is an 18th-century portrait of Captain Richard Bayly, an Irishman who served in America with Great Britain’s 44th Regiment during the French and Indian War.

Created in 1760 by British painter Joseph Wright of Derby, the portrait depicts Bayly in the silver-laced red coat uniform he wore while serving in the war. The portrait was purchased using funds raised through The Friends of Colonial Williamsburg Collection program, according to a Colonial Williamsburg news release.

“The faces of early America’s military officers are largely lost to time,” Ghislain d’Humières, Colonial Williamsburg executive director and senior vice president of core operations said in the release. “At Colonial Williamsburg, we are proud to be able to include their likenesses within our paintings collections and humanize their stories for our visitors in an accessible, visual manner.”

According to Erik Goldstein, Colonial Williamsburg’s senior curator of mechanical arts and numismatics, Bayly was transferred from the 35th Regiment to the 44th Regiment in April 1750. In late February 1755, Bayly is believed to have spent time between Hampton and Williamsburg preparing his men to fight in a battle that would come to be known as Braddock’s Defeat.

Seven officers in Bayly’s regiment were killed in the battle, while nine were wounded, Goldstein said. Bayly was promoted to captain of the 44th Regiment in July 1757, he said, and sat for this portrait by Joseph Wright of Derby after returning to the British Isles in late 1760.

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

Laura Pass Barry, Colonial Williamsburg’s Juli Grainger curator of paintings, drawings and sculpture, said the addition of the two portraits presented an exciting opportunity to better tell the story of the events that led to the Revolutionary War.

“We have an extraordinary opportunity to visually bookend the two most important events in early American military history — the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War — with this painting and the Campbell portrait and tell a very full and personal story of the acts that transpired on American soil,” she said in the release.

For more information, visit colonialwilliamsburg.com/art-museums.

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