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Mr Arthur Bower Forwood, MP 'Mr A B Forwood'

Lib (Liborio Prosperi) (1854-1928)


Inscribed with title on reverse

Watercolour and bodycolour on tinted paper

14 x 8 inches

The John Franks Collection

Vanity Fair, 16 August 1890, Statesmen no 572, 'Mr A B Forwood'

Chris Beetles & Alexander Beetles (eds.) Portraits of Vanity Fair: The Charles Sigety Collection, London: Chris Beetles Ltd, 2023, page 89

'Vanity Fair 1869-1914', Church Farm House Museum, Hendon, September-December 1983;
'Portraits of Vanity Fair: The Charles Sigety Collection', Chris Beetles Gallery, London, October-November 2023, no 43

As a politician and public servant, Sir Arthur Forwood (1836-1898) did a great deal to raise the standing of the city of Liverpool in Britain following the industrial revolution. He proved himself a skilled businessman in the shipping industry before joining Liverpool’s municipal council in 1871. He served as a councillor for 27 years and was Mayor of Liverpool from 1878 to 1879. In 1885 he became Conservative MP for Ormskirk, a seat he held until his death. In 1886, Lord Salisbury appointed him as Parliamentary and Financial Secretary to the Admiralty, thus becoming the first shipowner to become an Admiralty minister.

"He was born into the family of Forwood, which for several generations has stood high among the shipowners of Liverpool, four-and-fifty years ago; and, though early initiated into the mysteries of charter-parties and of the export trade, he showed so great an aptitude for municipal affairs that his fellow-citizens marked his activity in the Corporation by creating him their Mayor at the age of forty-two. Then, pining to achieve something more than local renown, he proved himself so good and so discreet a Tory organiser that his opponents, less cynically than respectfully, dubbed him ‘The Young Napoleon’; which title he did what in him lay to merit by contriving to return Mr. Whitley to the House of Commons in opposition to the late Lord Ramsay. Although thus able to procure seats for others, this Joseph Chamberlain of Liverpool remained seatless; and even suffered the humiliation of being beaten by good Mr. Samuel Smith. But he bided his time until 1885, when his patience was rewarded by the Ormskirk Division of Lancashire. And since it was meet that one who had done such service to his Party should receive prompt reward, he was presently made Secretary to the Admiralty - because he knew something of the Mercantile Marine.

By sticking closely to his desk, and by never going to sea, he has acquired a reputation for solidity and business aptitude, which is confirmed by a suitable heaviness of manner. He is an industrious official, who still finds time to cast a master's eye over the wealthy firm of which he is the head; and though to the casual observer he conveys the idea that he is highly impressed with the importance of Mr. Arthur Bower Forwood, this is rather the result of native awkwardness than any outward sign of vanity.

He invented the system of single-Member constituencies, and he has a brother who is a civic luminary and a Knight Bachelor. and he is a member of many Clubs. He helps to direct public Companies. He is more practical than polished in his Manners.”

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