By 1901 Forbes had lived and worked in the Cornish fishing village of Newlyn for some seventeen years and was committed to painting carefully observed scenes of everyday work and leisure.
Furthermore every common thing, every aspect of nature has a beauty of its own. That which might seem awkward and rough, suited as it is to the conditions of its life, and in harmony with its surroundings, may be most beautiful. And in those persons or forms which cannot be said to be beautiful there is much of importance. The hard lines which care and toil have left upon them, the awkwardness induced by want of culture, the many signs which tell of the hardships of poverty all these are there and should be faithfully recorded.
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. She had died on the 21st 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.