First director of the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge University; British Museum Keeper of Prints and Drawings (1883-1912). Colvin was the son of Bazett David Colvin (1805-1871), a commercial agent in India, and Mary Steuart Bayley (1821-1902). Colvin was raised and privately tutored the family home, The Grove, Little Bealings, near Woodbridge, east Suffolk. As a boy he knew John Ruskin, whose work he emulated. He entered Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1863 graduating at the top of his class in Classics in 1867. The following year he was appointed a fellow.