Hunt painted Ivanhoe in 1871, it is an oil on canvas and features children taking part in a reenactment of the story of Sir Walter Scott's medieval hero. Scott's most famous book is a tale of rivalry, romantic conflict, battles and tournaments, it is probably the tournament scene that Hunt depicts here. In Scott's book Ivanhoe defeats everyone who faces him and is finally set against Sir Brian de Bois Guilbert, the villain of the book.
The name of Guilbert can be seen on the chest armour of the second boy who has been knocked off his chair, whilst Ivanhoe himself straddles his quilted wooden mount and charges at his opponent at full tilt. Rowena, the fair maiden Ivanhoe is a keen on and her maidservant look on and are sheltered from the sun by a collapsed and broken umbrella, being held by a boy who feels that he has definitely been miscast! In the far left another character is being made ready for his part in the children's play. Hunt suggests that the boys have been reading Scott's book which is abandoned on the floor whilst the two boys in the right of the painting seem more interested in the real thing than their friends adaptation. Looking at other paintings by Charles Hunt this one is typical, there are no adults insight for it is the world of children and their wonderful world of make believe.
It is a certainly a lovely painting and reminds me of many happy summer afternoons in our garden watching my own children along with their friends as they performed plays for us, their version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears still makes me laugh today. I still have a copy of the wonderfully colourful illustrated homemade programme especially made the show, which I have to say is worth as much as the original of Hunts Ivanhoe.