About this artwork

James Watt achieved lasting fame as an engineer and scientist when his improvement of Newcomen's steam engine made it a practical industrial tool. Soon, his partnership with businessman Matthew Boulton led to the opening of a purpose-built steam engine factory. In 1800 Watt withdrew from active participation in the business and became entirely devoted to research. After his death in 1819, the ‘watt’ – a unit of measurement of electrical and mechanical power – was named in his honour. This portrait is a copy of a painting by Sir William Beechey. The original was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1802 and was regarded a true likeness by Watt himself. Partridge painted this copy a few years later and secured additional sittings by Watt to enhance the resemblance.

John Partridge

Sir William Beechey

John Partridge

Sir William Beechey