The 22 January 1901 (Reading the News of the Queen’s Death in a Cornish Cottage) by Stanhope A. Forbes, RA (1857-1947). 1901. Oil on canvas. H 96.4 x W 124 Collection: Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter, purchased from the artist in 1902. Reference: 103.1978x Image kindly released under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike licence (CC BY-NC-SA). [Click on the image to enlarge it.]

This is so typical of Forbes's artistic vision. The great national event, the death of Queen Victoria, is registered by a small Cornish family gathered round to hear about the news of her passing, in a humble cottage at a simple, well-used table. They read or hear about it with solemn attention; all age groups are represented, apparently unified in their recognition of the end of an era. Even the toddler in her father's arms seems to sense the atmosphere, looking quietly at her grandfather as he holds the newspaper up a little, against the light from the window. Something momentous has happened, that affects not just those in high office or in the capital, but all the subjects of the late queen. This is a good example of the artist's "'democratic' painting" (McConkey). As usual wkith Forbes, the play of light is brilliantly managed. Notice also the Cornish dresser to the right, the window ledge above and behind the window seat, all the details of this humble dwelling. — Jacqueline Banerjee


McConkey, Kenneth. "Forbes, Stanhope Alexander (1857–1947), genre painter." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Online ed. Web. 3 March 2021.

Created 3 March 2021