General George Augustus Eliott (later 1st Baron Heathfield) (1717-1790), 1783 (c).
Oil on canvas attributed to Antonio Poggi, 1783 (c).
General Eliott wearing a general officer's coat and the Order of the Bath, with Gibraltar in the background, representing his most significant military command.
Educated at Leyden University and the French military college of La Fère, Eliott first saw active service with the Prussian Army in 1735. In 1739, he was commissioned into the British Army and fought with the 2nd Troop of Horse Grenadier Guards during the War of the Austrian Succession (1742-1748). He later served with distinction in Germany and the West Indies, and was made a general in 1778. When France and Spain sought to take advantage of British involvement in America during the American War of Independence (1775-1783), Eliott was given command of the strategically important garrison of Gibraltar, overlooking the mouth of the Mediterranean. A man of great energy and ability, Eliott was responsible for the defence of 'the Rock', during the unsuccessful siege by Franco-Spanish forces from 1779 to 1783. The garrison endured famine and continual bombardment, and were relieved just in time by the Royal Navy breaking the blockade. In recognition of his services, Eliott was created Baron Heathfield in 1787.
The Italian artist, Antonio Poggi worked in London from about 1769 to 1781, exhibiting two paintings at the Royal Academy. In 1783 he visited Gibraltar in order to make sketches for a portrait of Eliott. Poggi also co-operated with the American artist John Trumbull, encouraging him to paint the siege which was subsequently engraved by Poggi and published in 1790.
NAM Accession Number
National Army Museum, London
National Army Museum, Study collection