Edward Forbes

1 portrait

Edward Forbes, by Leonard Charles Wyon, after a bust by  John Graham Lough, (1856) - NPG 1609 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Edward Forbes

by Leonard Charles Wyon, after a bust by John Graham Lough
bronze medal, (1856)
2 in. (51 mm) diameter
Given by Joanna B. Horner, 1911
Primary Collection
NPG 1609

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Sitterback to top

Artistsback to top

  • John Graham Lough (1798-1876). Artist associated with 3 portraits.
  • Leonard Charles Wyon (1826-1891), Die-engraver and medallist. Artist associated with 9 portraits, Sitter in 1 portrait.

This portraitback to top

The idea for this memorial prize medal, depicting the naturalist Edward Forbes, originated at a meeting of his friends following his death, according to a report in the Gentlemen's Magazine in February 1855. The medal was to be awarded to the most distinguished student in natural history in the Government School of Mines. It is inscribed on the reverse, 'NATURAE ACER INVESTIGATOR ET DILIGENS' (meaning 'a studious inquirer into the secrets of nature', a variation on a passage in Cicero's Timaeus). Forbes' friends also decided to commission a marble bust from John Graham Lough, completed in 1856 and now in the Geological Museum, London. The profile portrait on the medal is taken from this bust. Forbes was a friend of the father of the donor of this medal, the author, Joanna B. Horner.

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Events of 1856back to top

Current affairs

Queen Victoria introduces the Victoria cross, an award for British soldiers who displayed exceptional valour in battle. Each medal was produced from Russian guns captured in the British war. In 2006, Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry became the first living recipient of the Victoria Cross since 1965, for his actions in the Iraq war.

Art and science

The National Portrait Gallery is founded by Philip Henry Stanhope, 5th Earl of Stanhope, Thomas Babington Macaulay, and Thomas Carlyle, all biographers and historians. Historical rather than artistic in focus, the Gallery's aim was to collect original portraits of outstanding figures from British history, notably from politics, the arts, literature and science. Elizabeth Barrett Browning publishes her epic and autobiographical poem Aurora Leigh.


The Treaty of Paris ends the Crimean war. Russia concedes to the Anglo-French-Austrian Four Points of August 1854 including the guarantee of Ottoman sovereignty and territorial integrity. Russia also agreed to a demilitarisation of the land islands in the Baltics, a term which lasted until the outbreak of the First World War. Britain launches the second Opium war against China.

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