A half-length portrait slightly to left, in flag officer's undress uniform, c.1774–1783. Forbes wears a white wig. He supported Mathews during and after the Battle of Toulon 1744. He served as a member of the Admiralty Board in 1757 and was the only one who would not ratify the sentence of death of Byng. He became General of the Marines and followed Hawke as the Admiral of the Fleet in 1781 but was prevented by ill-health from taking any active part in affairs.
The artist was an important portrait painter of the late eighteenth century, generally ranked third after Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough. He was in Paris in 1764 and in 1773 moved to Italy for two years, where he became interested in history paintings in the elevated and élitist 'Grand Manner'. This developed into improving upon nature and the pursuit of perfect form. At its best his work demonstrated refinement, sensitivity and elegance, although it could also be repetitive and monotonous. As a society painter he typified late-eighteenth-century English artists who, compelled by the conditions of patronage to spend their time in producing portraits, could only aspire to imaginative and ideal painting. By 1780 Romney's portraits, according to Horace Walpole, were 'in great vogue' and he worked in an increasingly neo-classical style. Signed and dated 'G Romney Pinx. 1778'.
Where to see this painting?
National Maritime Museum
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