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William Shirley

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")
Printed Material\Document\Scroll
Interior\Interior with Exterior View
Home Furnishings\Furniture\Table
Costume\Hair Accessory\Wig
William Shirley: Male
William Shirley: Military and Intelligence\Army\Officer\British Army
William Shirley: Politics and Government\Governor\Colonial Governor\Massachusetts
William Shirley: Politics and Government\Governor\Bahamas
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Restrictions & Rights
Object number
Exhibition Label
Born Preston, England
Appointed colonial governor of Massachusetts in 1741, William Shirley led British military forces in challenging France for colonial dominance in North America. As tensions mounted between Britain and France, he served as military strategist and diplomat. In 1744, during King George’s War (1744–48), Shirley successfully organized an attack on the French fortress of Louisbourg in Nova Scotia.
After the war ended in 1748, Shirley participated in boundary negotiations with the French in London, where Thomas Hudson painted this portrait. The ships in the background recall Shirley’s use of naval forces during the war. At the outset of the French and Indian War in 1755, Shirley briefly commanded the British forces in North America. A year later, he was stripped of his positions as commander and governor due to his military failings and accusations of financial misconduct. Ultimately exonerated, Shirley became governor of the Bahamas.
Nacido en Preston, Inglaterra
Designado gobernador colonial de Massachusetts en 1741, William Shirley lideró las fuerzas militares británicas para desafiar el dominio francés en Norteamérica. Mientras aumentaban las tensiones entre Gran Bretaña y Francia, fungió como estratega militar y diplomático. En 1744, durante la Guerra del Rey Jorge (1744–48), organizó un exitoso ataque al fuerte francés de Louisbourg en Nueva Escocia.
Al terminar la guerra en 1748, Shirley participó en la negociación de las fronteras con los franceses en Londres, donde Thomas Hudson pintó este retrato. Los barcos del fondo recuerdan su efectivo uso de las fuerzas navales durante la guerra. Al comienzo de la Guerra Franco-Indígena en 1755, Shirley comandó las fuerzas británicas en Norteamérica. Un año después fue despojado de sus puestos de comandante y gobernador debido a sus fracasos militares y acusaciones de irregularidades financieras. Exonerado al final, pasó a ser gobernador de las Bahamas.
Cornelia King Marsh, Mt. Kisco, New York, descendant of sitter; purchased 1979 NPG
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
Out of Many: Portraits from 1600 to 1900
On View
NPG, East Gallery 144