About this artwork

Sir William was born in Edinburgh and served an apprenticeship with the banking firm Coutts. He derived considerable wealth from his career as an influential banker and made donations to charitable institutions and individuals in Edinburgh. He is shown wearing the order of the baronetcy of Nova Scotia, a title inherited from his father and still worn by the Forbes descendents today. Among his friends were the writers Sir Walter Scott and Samuel Johnson, the philosopher Edmund Burke and Sir Joshua Reynolds, who painted this portrait.

Sir Joshua Reynolds

Sir Joshua Reynolds