'And when did you last see your father?' - Yeames and his circle

'And when did you last see your father ?', WF Yeames, 1878

 

The artist and his circle

William Frederick Yeames was a member of the St John's Wood Clique. This group of artists painted historical and narrative paintings| which, although popular with the public, were never critically acclaimed. Yeames and his contemporaries struggled to get work shown at the Royal Academy because of this. Neither did they lead bohemian lifestyles like many other artists of the time. Yeames lived comfortably in a large house in St John's Wood, London. He enjoyed playing tennis in the private courts of other clique members. He also holidayed at Hever Castle, home of Anne Boleyn - second wife of Henry VIII and mother to Queen Elizabeth I. The castle's Tudor architecture was used as a backdrop for many of his paintings.

A typical scene in St John's Wood is depicted in Laura Knight's painting 'Spring in St John's Wood', also at the Walker Art Gallery. Laura Knight was not a member of the St John's Clique.

Painting the Civil War

The Civil War was a common theme in the work of many of the St John's Wood Clique. The Walker Art Gallery holds four other Civil War paintings by this group of artists. They and many other Victorians held a rather romanticised view of the war. They preferred to emphasise the moral convictions and loyalty of the combatants at the expense of the more bloody and bitter elements.