The original oil-on-canvas picture painted in 1878, depicts a scene in an imaginary Royalist Household during the English Civil War. 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's nephew, James Lambe Yeames. Behind the boy, there is a girl, probably the daughter, waiting her turn to be questioned. The girl was based on Yeames's 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.
The painting is at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, having been bought in 1878, just a year after the gallery opened in 1877. Madame Tussauds in London has a life-size waxwork tableau of the scene, faithfully reproduced from the painting.
This original Victorian engraving is in its original oak frame and measures 33" X 21" including the frame