About this artwork

James Watt achieved lasting fame as an engineer and scientist with his improvement of Newcomen's steam engine. After years of experimentation, in 1775 he entered into a partnership with businessman Matthew Boulton to produce the improved engine. Their success led to the opening of a purpose-built steam engine factory in 1796, after which Watt gradually withdrew from active participation. By 1814, when he commissioned his bust from Chantrey, Watt was a national – if reluctant – celebrity. Following its exhibition in 1815 at the Royal Academy, the bust was frequently reproduced in full-scale marble and plaster replicas, miniature copies in ivory for the mass market and commemorative medals, which is why this particular depiction of Watt is so well known.

Sir Francis Legatt Chantrey

Sir Francis Legatt Chantrey