Tate Britain Exhibition

Fighting History

John Singleton Copley, ‘The Death of Major Peirson, 6 January 1781’ 1783
John Singleton Copley, The Death of Major Peirson, 6 January 1781 1783. Tate
John Singleton Copley, ‘The Death of Major Peirson, 6 January 1781’ 1783
John Singleton Copley
The Death of Major Peirson, 6 January 1781 1783
Gavin Hamilton, ‘Agrippina Landing at Brindisium with the Ashes of Germanicus’ 1765–72
Gavin Hamilton
Agrippina Landing at Brindisium with the Ashes of Germanicus 1765–72

John Minton The Death of Nelson 1952 Oil on canvas

Allen Jones, ‘The Battle of Hastings’ 1961–2
Allen Jones
The Battle of Hastings 1961–2
© Allen Jones
Richard Eurich, ‘The Landing at Dieppe, 19th August 1942’ 1942–3
Richard Eurich
The Landing at Dieppe, 19th August 1942 1942–3

Jeremy Deller Jacket from The Battle of Orgreave Archive (An Injury to one is an Injury to All) 2001

From Ancient Rome to recent political upheavals, Fighting History looks at how artists have transformed significant events into paintings and artworks that encourage us to reflect on our own place in history.

From the epic 18th century history paintings by John Singleton Copley and Benjamin West to 20th century and contemporary pieces by Richard Hamilton and Dexter Dalwood, the exhibition explores how artists have reacted to key historic events, and how they capture and interpret the past.

Often vast in scale, history paintings engage with important narratives from the past, from scripture and from current affairs. Some scenes protest against state oppression, while others move the viewer with heroic acts, tragic deaths and the plights of individuals swept up in events beyond their control. The Death of Amy Robsart by William Frederick Yeames, which has been newly conserved for this exhibition, casts a spotlight on a historical mystery while John Minton’s The Death of Nelson offers a tender perspective on the death of one of England’s greatest naval commanders.

The exhibition also shows how contemporary artists, such as Turner Prize winner Jeremy Deller, continue to engage with the traditions of history painting to confront modern-day tragedies and dilemmas.

Some of the most powerful moments in British history painting throughout the ages
Culture Whisper

A perfect selection of works to illustrate the emotional power and longevity of history painting
Visit London

A battle worth being a part of
Time Out

The Upcoming

Tate Britain

London SW1P 4RG
Plan your visit


9 June – 13 September 2015

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