Harvard art historian and director of the Fogg Art Museum. Forbes was born into the quintessential Boston Brahmin family. His father, William Hathaway Forbes, organized the Bell Telephone Company with Alexander Graham Bell. His mother, Edith Emerson Forbes, was the daughter of the poet Ralph Waldo Emerson. Forbes went to Milton Academy before attending Harvard University where the lectures of Charles Eliot Norton particularly inspired him, though he acknowledged that Norton ignored Egyptian and Asian and the medium of prints (Cohn).