Richard Killeen

The glorious dead

The glorious dead by Richard Killeen

Artwork Detail

This painting is one of the wonderful images within New Zealand's art history. It coalesces the reverent respect that we have for our country's war dead with this nation's own obsessive affection for male sport (rugby union and rugby league). This youth is unscarred, physically innocent, strong and entirely devoid of vain self-consciousness. He is a symbol of the young and proud male New Zealander. He might have been a young soldier, instead he is a young rugby player standing in attention before a stone catafalque.

It is not ironic that Killeen painted this work in the very same year that there were student protests and rallies being held on an almost daily basis. New Zealand's society was in turmoil and trying to divest itself from its own deeply conservative values. The glorious dead looks towards the present and questions our social values in an acutely emotional manner. (New Visions, 2001)

The glorious dead
Richard Killeen
Production date
oil on canvas
792 x 787 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, gift of Richard Killeen, 2000
Accession no
Copying restrictions apply
New Zealand Art
Display status
Not on display

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