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Sir Nathaniel Dance-holland, 1735 - 1811 portrait Of John Rennie, Frse, Frs, 1761 – 1821


£1,200 | $1,598 USD | €1,375 EUR
Item Number: SA485936
Date of manufacture: 18th Century
Current Status: For sale
Seller: Artware Fineart
This antique has been viewed 33 times in the past month with the most views from Germany.


Sir Nathaniel Dance-Holland, 1735 - 1811
Portrait of John Rennie, FRSE, FRS, 1761 – 1821
"the late John Rennie Esq"
pencil on paper
( 26 x 20 cm. ) 10.1/4 x 8in.
published by William Daniell, after George Dance soft-ground etching, published 15 August 1810 (28 May 1803) NPG D12160
John Rennie, (1761–1821), engineer, was born on 7 June 1761 at Phantassie, Haddingtonshire, the youngest of the nine children of James Rennie (d. 1766), a farmer and owner of a brewery, and his wife, Jean, née Rennie (1720–1783). George Rennie (1749–1828), the agriculturist, was his oldest brother and took over the family interests when their father died in 1766. Their eldest sister, Marion (1744–1809), married James Mylne (1738/9–1788), poet. John went to the parish school at Prestonkirk. A precocious interest in machinery was nurtured by the well-known millwright Andrew Meikle (1719–1811), inventor of the threshing machine and improver of the windmill, who lived on the estate. Rennie started to work for Meikle when he was twelve, getting a grounding in practical mechanics. For two years (1775–7) he was then at Dunbar high school, where a visitor, David Loch, singled him out for his ‘amazing powers of genius’ in mathematics and experimental and natural philosophy. Later, when his teacher at Dunbar retired, Rennie was asked to succeed him but agreed to do so only temporarily, as his ambitions lay elsewhere.
After working again for Meikle, with his help and consent Rennie set up on his own as a millwright in 1779. Among his first jobs was building a mill for his brother to house one of Meikle's earliest threshing machines. Though soon in a good way of business, he opted to combine practical work with studies at Edinburgh University, where he matriculated in November 1780, continuing until 1783. Here he made friends with two eminent teachers, the chemist Joseph Black and the professor of natural philosophy, John Robison, and gained a breadth of scientific interest as well as some grasp of theoretical engineering concepts.
In 1783 Rennie took a study tour into England, making notes on canals, bridges, and machinery along his route. His destination was Birmingham, where a letter from Robison procured him an introduction to James Watt. Watt, in need of a millwright to extend the mechanical scope of his steam engine, was greatly taken with Rennie. The next year Boulton and Watt offered him the job of looking after their London business and erecting the engines they supplied for the Albion Mills, the revolutionary flour mill at the south end of Blackfriars Bridge conceived and designed by Samuel Wyatt. To this end Rennie moved to London, setting up a workshop at a Thames wharf near the mill. The millwork for the twenty sets of grinding stones was supplied by Wyatt, but the substitution of much iron gearing for the customary timber was probably Rennie's idea; there was much friction between the two men.
Rennie opened the Albion Mills to visitors when production began in 1786, despite the secretive Watt's disapproval. The building burned down in 1791, but by then Rennie's reputation was made and he was supplying millwork for customers as far away as France, Spain, and Portugal. He made moving machinery for mills, breweries, and factories of all kinds, including a variety of machines for the new Boulton and Watt factory at Birmingham (erected by his foreman, Peter Ewart). Rolling mills for mints were a speciality, most of the equipment for the new Royal Mint at Tower Hill being Rennie's. He was ingenious in improving mechanical devices. A pioneer in applying steam power to pile-driving and dredging, he was among the first to make regular use of ball-bearings, improved the water-wheel and diving bell, experimented with stone pipes for water supply, and contributed to the evolution of the gantry crane. To m
Internal Ref: 3924


This item is antique. The date of manufacture has been declared as 18th Century.


Height = 26 cm (10.2")
Width = 20 cm (7.9")
Depth = 3 cm (1.2")

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Artware Fineart
18 La Gare
51 Surrey Row
United Kingdom

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