Arthur Boyd Houghton was a popular Victorian oil painter and watercolourist. He was perhaps best known as an illustrator, working between 1860 and his early death in 1875 during the resurgence of the wood engraved illustration. Heavily influenced by the art and the idealism of the Pre-Raphaelites, his work is often notable for the sense of drama he manages to convey. He worked for magazine titles such as The Graphic, Good Words and the Sunday Magazine and became a fixture in the public imagination with his plates for 'The Arabian Nights' and 'Don Quixote'. Of his oils, which are scattered among private and public collections throughout Britain, including two examples in the Tate, he most frequently painted genre scenes, often using his wife and children as models.
"The Last of the Barons" was the title of an 1843 play by Edward Bulwer Lytton. The subject of the title was Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, popularly known as "The Kingmaker". The most powerful man in 15th Century England, Warwick had fought on the Yorkist side in the Wars of the Roses, helping to depose the Lancastrian king Henry VI and place Edward IV on the throne. The play details the deterioration of the once firm friendship between monarch and noble in the 1460s, following the king's marriage to the commoner Elizabeth Woodville and sponsorship of the new burgeoning middle class which threatened the power of the barons led by Warwick.