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Mid-Georgian Portraits Catalogue

Matthew Boulton (1728-1809), Industrialist and entrepreneur

Manufacturer; b. Birmingham, inheriting his father’s buckle-making business in 1759; built the Soho Manufactory 1765 and within two years was considered ‘the most complete manufacturer in England in metal’; joined by James Watt 1774, with whom he developed the Boulton & Watt steam engine; FRS 1785; with Erasmus Darwin founded the Lunar Society in 1766 to discuss the widest range of scientific issues.

'He was in person tall, and of a noble appearance; his temperament was sanguine, with that slight mixture of phlegmatic which gives calmness and dignity; his manners were eminently open and cordial' (Mary Schimmelpenninck, 1858)

‘Few men have had his abilities & still fewer have exerted them as he has done and if to them we add his urbanity, his generosity and his affection for his friends, we shall make up a character rarely to be equalled’ (James Watt, 1809).

This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Ingamells, National Portrait Gallery: Mid-Georgian Portraits 1760-1790, National Portrait Gallery, 2004, and is as published then. For the most up-to-date details on individual Collection works, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text.