About this Project and Recent Updates
Note on the Image found on the Splash Page.
The image found on the website splash page is entitled "The Reception of the American Loyalists by Great Britain" and is a detail taken from a larger portrait of John Eardley Wilmot painted by Benjamin West in 1812. The image appears as a framed painting within the portrait and depicts Britannia, the symbolic representation of the British nation, alongside personifications of “Religion” and “Justice” sheltering a host of Loyalist refugees. West depicts Black Loyalists in the background alongside White widows and children. He also presents a romanticized Native American accompanying famous Loyalists including William Franklin at the front of the multitude. A crown, representing both good government and the cause that many of these refugees had fought to maintain in America, is pictured atop a table beneath Britannia.
Wilmot, the subject of the portrait, was one of the commissioners appointed by Parliament to oversee compensation for lost Loyalist property. In the foreground of the painting (not pictured on the splash page), Wilmont sits at his desk pointing towards a document entitled “Report of Losses and Compensation for the American Loyalists.” The inclusion of the document and the fact the "Reception" is featured within a portrait painted nearly 30 years after the commission was established, bears testimony to how significant the work of the commission was to those who oversaw its progress. Benjamin West, the American-born painter clearly identified with the subject, as he included himself and his wife among the retinue welcoming their dispossessed countrywomen and men to safety in Britain. That this portrait was painted in the same year that the United States resumed armed conflict with Britain and its colonies in Canada is telling, infusing it with deeper meaning as a commentary on the diplomatic situation in the North Atlantic at the time in which it was painted. Learn more information about the painting and view a high quality digital reproduction of the portrait in its totality here.