King Alfred's Longships defeat the Danes
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King Alfred's Longships defeat the Danes

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In a picture commemorating the importance to Britain of naval defence, this painting by Colin Gill depicts a battle in Swanage Bay in 877, in which the longships of King Alfred defeated the supply-ships of the Viking invaders.

Alfred has good title to be considered a founder of the British navy. Originally king of the West Saxons, he spent years in struggle against the Danes. By the end of his reign he had received the submission of the Angles and Saxons throughout Britain, together with that of several of the Welsh princes. He not only saved Wessex from the perils of the Scandinavian invasions, but also made his kingdom the centre for the delivery and union of the whole country.

(2) King Alfred's Longships defeat the Danes

(3) King Alfred's Longships defeat the Danes

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King Alfred's Longships defeat the Danes

This is one of eight monumental canvases commissioned in 1927 to fill the vacant spaces on the walls of St Stephen's Hall. The idea of this scheme was conceived by a committee including Lord Peel, Lord Crawford (Chairman of the Fine Arts Commission) and the Speaker of the House of Commons - at that time J.H. Whitley. The subjectmatter and artists were chosen by Sir Henry Newbolt, the unifying theme being 'The Building of Britain', during the eight centuries from King Alfred to Queen Anne. The result is an unusual attempt to produce in the 1920s High Art of the sort which was understood by the Victorian artists of the 19th-century Palace, of Westminster, but which was no longer popular or perhaps well understood. Advanced Category Search

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