The 22nd January 1901 (Reading the News of the Queen’s Death in a Cornish Cottage)
The location has been identified as Primrose Cottage, Newlyn, and the sitters as the Hichens family and two others. Through an otherwise everyday breakfast scene, Forbes has evoked the affection in which the Queen Victoria was held, even in the remotest communities. The poignancy of the moment is enhanced by the gentle light falling from a single window upon the family and their simple homely possessions.
Queen Victoria died on the 22 January 1901. But in an age before television, radio and the internet many outside of the larger towns and cities would not have known until at least the following day. For these people, newspapers were the only source of national news other than word-of-mouth. Here Forbes commemorates the sense of loss experienced by a population who, for the most part, had known no other British sovereign. 22 January would be a date to remember.