About this artwork

The 'watt', the word used to describe a unit of power, takes its name from this Greenock-born inventor and engineer. His improvements to Newcomen's engine entitle him to be considered the father of the steam engine as a practical industrial tool. After working in Glasgow, he entered into partnership with Matthew Boulton at the Soho Works and became part of the group of clever, practical, men based around Birmingham, who included Josiah Wedgwood and Joseph Priestly.

Updated before 2020

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John Henning

John Henning

The son of a Paisley carpenter, John Henning initially modelled profiles in wax and then began to produce portrait medallions. During his years in Glasgow his sitters included James Watt. He moved to Edinburgh in 1803 and studied at the Trustees' Academy. In 1811 he went to London where he spent twelve years drawing the Parthenon friezes. With the help of his son, Henning later made large plaster replicas of the friezes to decorate important London buildings to mark the British victories at Trafalgar and Waterloo. He also made small plaster copies of the Raphael cartoons.