The death of Major Peirson

This is one of the most iconic paintings of the history of Jersey by John Singleton Copley, painted in 1783. Most islanders will remember it from the old ten pound note, which has sadly ceased to be be printed.

Old Jersey Ten Pound Note

The Battle of Jersey was the last French attempt to seize the island. Approximately 1,000 French soldiers landed at La Rocque, Grouville, overnight on 5–6 January and occupied St Helier early on the morning of 6 January, commanded by de Rullecourt and an Indian, Mir Sayyad. The Lieutenant Governor of Jersey Moses Corbet was captured in bed and surrendered, but Peirson, the 24-year-old commander of around 2,000 troops of the British garrison, refused to surrender. As Peirson organised a counter-attack, he was killed by a sniper. Despite Peirson’s death, local militiamen Lieutenant Philippe Dumaresq took command of the British forces, comprising detachments of the 95th Regiment of Foot, 78th Highlanders, and Jersey Militia, quickly overwhelming the French, most of whom surrendered. Wikipedia

I decided to revisit this painting adding influences from graffiti to digital manipulation.

The Death of Major Peirson 2012

Detail of death

This detail of a skull symbolizes the angels of death over the battle ground. As Major Peirson lies mortally wounded, they await.
Speaking of death, it’s funny how it’s always around the corner, in the media, on walls, in galleries and in the back of our minds. Like this poor chap, priced up and waiting for a new home. The second I took this photo, he lunged forward, maybe in final act of desperation to seek attention, or maybe he just didn’t like his image being taken.

The price of bones.

Or these two lovelies, fine bone structures.


Back to Major Peirson, and his impending death. I added graffiti to the dark recesses of this picture. French quotes scrawled on the roofs, as I guess the French at this moment in time were most likely expecting a quick victory. Their influence slowly seeping into the streets below.

love me

His hair flowing into an enveloping universe, soon to meet his maker.

Detail of the Battle of Jersey

So when you look closely round the city, there are reminders of times past and victories won and lost. Ghost maybe. Reminders defiantly.

Shoreditch wall

Shoreditch HorseGuard

One Response to “The death of Major Peirson”
  1. David Andrews says:

    Really nice work, I’m a fan of Copley and Death of Maj. Pierson. Any aspirations toward Watson and the Shark, or any JMW Turner?

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