Allen Jones

The Battle of Hastings


Not on display

Allen Jones born 1937
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 1829 × 1829 mm
Presented by E.J. Power through the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1980

Display caption

Jones’s early works, such as this, explore the territory between abstraction and representation. He often took the representational element from sources formerly considered inappropriate for high art. Here, for example, the source was a diagram Jones had drawn for a group of school children to explain the movement of the opposing armies at the battle of Hastings in 1066.

Jones has had a longstanding interest in military history and another source for the painting is a drawing he made of the siege of Gibraltar during a visit to a museum in Gibraltar.

Gallery label, July 2008

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Catalogue entry


Inscribed on the reverse, on top turn-over edge of canvas ‘Allen Jones 1961–62 “Battle of Hastings”’
Oil on canvas, 72 × 72 (182.8 × 182.8)
Presented by E.J.Power through the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1980
Prov: Purchased by E.J. Power from the artist shortly after it was completed
Exh: Two Young Figurative Painters: Howard Hodgkin, Allen Jones, ICA, February–March 1962 (1); Allen Jones: Retrospective of Paintings 1957–1978, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, March–April 1979 and tour to Serpentine Gallery May–June, Museum and Art Gallery, Sunderland June–July, Staatliche Kunsthalle, Baden-Baden September–October and Kunsthalle, Bielefeld November–December 1979 (5, colour)
Lit: Marco Livingstone, catalogue of 1979 Allen Jones retrospective exhibition, n.p.; Marco Livingstone, Allen Jones: Sheer Magic, 1979, pp.116, 120, repr.pp.102–3 in colour
Repr: Michael Compton, Pop Art, 1970, pl.70

'The Battle of Hastings’ was painted as a result of Allen Jones making a diagram for some eleven-year-old children he was teaching at the time during a one-year teachers' training course at the Hornsey College of Art: the diagram showed the disposition of Harold's forces and the path taken by the arrow that killed him. It also derives in part from a diagram of the Siege of Gibraltar in a museum which he saw while on a visit to Gibraltar. It is one of his few landscape paintings.

The concern with trajectories in ‘The Battle of Hastings’ reflects Jones's interest at the time in Futurist theory and the idea of implied movement in paintings, the writings of Klee and the work of Kandinsky, particularly his ‘Improvisations’. The coloured shapes at the top right and the heraldic shapes below are references to the work of Morris Louis, Noland, Kelly, Albers and others. He afterwards painted a further, more simplified version of this composition in 1965–6 entitled ‘My Hastings - Four Years Later’ (now in the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam) and yet another, still more simplified, in 1971 called ‘Hastings. 10 Years After’ (private collection).

This catalogue entry as well as the following two are based in part on a discussion between the artist and the compiler on 17 October 1983.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1980-82: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1984

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