Sir Francis Chantrey was the most outstanding sculptor of his generation. Although his beginnings were humble and his skills mainly self-taught, he had a hugely successful career as a sculptor of portrait busts, statues, public monuments and funerary memorials. His sitters came from a wide spectrum of professions and included writers, artists, scientists and military heroes. His success was the result of an ability to give true character to his sculpture without idealising his subjects too much. His most famous works include several colossal statues of the inventor James Watt, one of which was made for Westminster Abbey, but can now be found in the Portrait Gallery. After his death, Chantrey left a fortune to the Royal Academy for the purchase and promotion of contemporary British art.