And When Did You Last See Your Father?

William Frederick Yeames, 1878

WAG 2679

About this object

This painting of a fictional event from the English Civil War (1642 - 1646) is perhaps the most popular work in the Walker Art Gallery. It shows a Royalist house under occupation by Parliamentarians. The young boy is being interrogated as to the whereabouts of the master of the house. Behind him, a soldier gently holds the boy's crying sister. To the left can be seen the children's mother, her fear and anxiety at the boy's possible answer written in her face.

To the Victorians, children were often seen as ideals of truth and honesty. The suspense in this work comes from the dilemma the boy now finds himself in: to tell the truth and possibly endanger his father, or lie and maybe save him.

Yeames was inspired to paint this scene by the innocent and candid nature of his nephew who lived with him. The boy also acted as a model for the painting.

The work received favourable reviews when first exhibited and its fame and popularity continued to grow from then on. It has been widely reproduced, often in history textbooks, as well as being the subject of a popular song in the 1890s, numerous political cartoons and even a waxwork tableau at Madame Tussaud's in London.

Object specifics

  • Artist(s)
    William Frederick Yeames (British: English, born:18 December 1835, died:3 May 1918)
  • Date
  • Materials
    Oil; Canvas
  • Measurements
    canvas/support: 131 cm x 251.5 cm
  • Physical description
    A young boy stands on a foot stool before a table in the middle of a room surrounded by people. A soldier and a crying little girl stand on the left and three gentlemen are seated at the table on the right.
  • Related people
    William Frederick Yeames (Artist/maker, previous owner)
  • Other number(s)
    WAG Inventory Number: 2679
  • Credit line
    Purchased by the Walker Art Gallery in 1878
  • Location
    Walker Art Gallery, Room 07
  • Collection
    From the Walker Art Gallery collections


Previous owners

  • William Frederick Yeames

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1878
    Disposal method: Sold to the Walker Art Gallery


Item inscriptions

  • Inscription text: W. F. YEAMES 1878
    Inscription method:
    Inscription note:
    Inscription location: Front; Lower left
Object view = Fine Art
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