Maxfield Parrish created the present work as a playbill to commemorate a performance of Ivanhoe, which took place in the home of its original owner in Cornish, New Hampshire. The Cornish Art Colony began in 1885 with the arrival of the sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Ensuing artists were attracted to the region's natural beauty and relative seclusion, as well as by the encouragement and intellectual stimulation offered by the town's residents. Along with a number of painters, writers, and sculptors, Parrish arrived in the Colony with his family in the 1890s. The present work, ornately crafted by the artist as a playbill for a local dramatic production of Ivanhoe, is a remarkable example of the Colonists interest in fostering the cultural life of the region.
First published in 1820, Ivanhoe is an adventure novel set in 12th-century England, and the most well-known and influential of Sir Walter Scott's works. The story has since been adapted to film, television, and the stage, and is often credited with the general resurgence of interest in the medieval period.