Posted by: Patrick Allen Foster | March 25, 2014

Tuesday Art Blogging, English Civil War Edition

William Frederick Yeames - And when did you last see your father? - Google Art Project

William Frederick Yeames, And when did you last see your father?, 1878.

Currently hanging in the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, England, UK.

Says Wikipedia (footnote omitted):

The Parliamentarians have taken over the house and question the son about his Royalist father (the man lounging on a chair in the centre of the scene is identifiable as a Roundhead officer by his military attire and his orange sash). Yeames was inspired to paint the picture to show the crises that could arise from the natural frankness of young children. Here, if the boy tells the truth he will endanger his father, but if he lies he will go against the ideal of honesty undoubtedly instilled in him by his parents.

The boy in the pictures is based on Thomas Gainsborough‘s painting The Blue Boy. It was modelled by Yeames’ nephew, James Lambe Yeames. Behind the boy, a sobbing little girl, probably the daughter, waits her turn to be questioned. The girl was based on Yeames’ niece, Mary Yeames. At the back of the hall the mother and elder daughter wait anxiously on the boy’s reply. The scene is neutral: while the innocence of the boy is emphasized by his blond hair, open expression and blue suit, the questioners are also treated sympathetically; the main interrogator has a friendly expression and the sergeant with the little girl has his arm on her shoulder as if comforting her.

I would simply note that the main interrogator has a “friendly expression” because any effective interrogator would do his utmost to project such friendliness in such a situation; making the boy comfortable and responsive to questions — perhaps even eager to help his new friend — is just a basic interrogation technique. Any cop would recognize it.

That “friendly expression” does not mean that the main interrogator won’t hang the boy’s father if it comes to that.

Revolutions and civil wars are messy things.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons.


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