Ecstasy of Fumbling

© the artist/courtesy Flowers Gallery, London and New York. Image credit: National Army Museum

How you can use this image

This image can be used for non-commercial research or private study purposes, and other UK exceptions to copyright permitted to users based in the United Kingdom under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, as amended and revised. Any other type of use will need to be cleared with the rights holder(s).

Review the copyright credit lines that are located underneath the image, as these indicate who manages the copyright (©) within the artwork, and the photographic rights within the image.

The collection that owns the artwork may have more information on their own website about permitted uses and image licensing options.

Review our guidance pages which explain how you can reuse images, how to credit an image and how to find images in the public domain or with a Creative Commons licence available.


Add or edit a note on this artwork that only you can see. You can find notes again by going to the ‘Notes’ section of your account.

This self-portrait depicts the artist John Keane wearing Nuclear, Biological and Chemical warfare (NBC) clothing and travelling in the rear of an army vehicle, during a gas alert in the Gulf War (1990–1991). During the conflict there was a constant fear that Saddam Hussein would use his stockpile of chemical weapons against coalition troops. Although this did not occur there were many false alarms. The wearing of NBC suits in hot desert conditions is especially uncomfortable.

The incident depicted occurred during a press visit to a field hospital where, because of an Iraqi missile attack on a nearby town, the visitors were ordered to put on their NBC suits. Just over a decade later British troops were back in the Gulf, taking part in a coalition invasion of Iraq in 2003, undertaken to combat the perceived threat from Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs).

National Army Museum



Ecstasy of Fumbling




oil on canvas


H 157.5 x W 107 cm

Accession number

NAM. 1998-04-18

Acquisition method

purchased from Flowers East, 1998

Work type



This artwork does not have any tags yet. You can help by tagging artworks on Tagger.

National Army Museum

Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea, London, Greater London SW3 4HT England

This venue is open to the public. Not all artworks are on display. If you want to see a particular artwork, please contact the venue.
View venue