M15885 | Head from a Bust of George III, 1765

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Head from a Bust of George III, 1765
Joseph Wilton
1765, 18th century
33 x 26 x 28 cm
Gift of the Natural History Society of Montreal
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  sculpture (112) , Sculpture (113)
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Keys to History

This bust of King George III of England (1738-1820) belonged to a monument erected on the Place d'Armes between 1766 and 1776.

The bust was shipped to Montreal in 1766, a few months after a major fire had razed much of the city's business core. It arrived together with two fire pumps and a 8500 pounds sterling relief contribution raised through a campaign organized by Jonas Hanway, a London merchant and philanthropist (1712-1796) .

The monument, a symbol of the might of the British Empire , had a short but tumultuous life. In the spring of 1775, as the Quebec Act came into effect, British citizens, angered by the new privileges granted to French Canadians, vandalized the bust. It disappeared the following winter during the American invasion of the city. It was salvaged in 1834 from a well on the Place d'Armes, where American soldiers had discarded it .

  • What

    This bust, which was not destined to become a public monument, is probably the first one ever made of King George III after his rise to the throne. It would have been presented to Jonas Hanway during his fundraising campaign for the relief of Montrealers.

  • Where

    The bust of King George III was on the Place d'Armes, facing Notre-Dame Church. This was one of the major gathering points in 18th century Montreal.

  • When

    The bust of King George III arrived in Montreal in 1766 by the same ship that was bringing the colony's new governor, Sir Guy Carleton (1724-1808).

  • Who

    The bust is a work of Joseph Wilton (1722-1803), official sculptor to King George III .