- Gallery Text
Painted in France, this portrait projects the unpretentious image that Benjamin Franklin cultivated during his tenure as an American diplomat. Duplessis captures the charming manner, thick belly, modest style of dress, and loose, unpowdered hair that helped elevate Franklin into something of a celebrity in refined Parisian circles.
Duplessis’s painting was one of three portraits of Franklin exhibited to acclaim at the Salon of 1779. After less than three years in France, the American ambassador had been portrayed in prints, paintings, busts, on porcelain, and in medallions that traveled across Europe and the Atlantic. The sudden ubiquity of Franklin’s likeness led him to quip that his face was “as well known as that of the moon.”
- Identification and Creation
- Object Number
Joseph Siffred Duplessis, French (Carpentras, France 1725 - 1802 Versailles, France)
- Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)
- Work Type
- c. 1778
- Physical Descriptions
- Oil on canvas
- 71.1 x 57.2 cm (28 x 22 1/2 in.)
framed: 86.5 x 73 cm (34 1/16 x 28 3/4 in.)
- Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop to the Fogg Art Museum, 1943.
- Acquisition and Rights
- Credit Line
- Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop
- Accession Year
- Object Number
- European and American Art
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- Publication History
Washington, Lafayette, Franklin: Portraits, Books, Manuscripts, Prints, Memorabilia, for the Most Part from the Collections of the University, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1944), p. 27, cat. 53
Louise Todd Ambler, Benjamin Franklin: A Perspective, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1975), pp. 83, 122-123, no. 44, ill. p. 83
Edgar Peters Bowron, European Paintings Before 1900 in the Fogg Art Museum: A Summary Catalogue including Paintings in the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1990), pp. 106, 220, cat. 254, ill.
Edwin S. Gaustad, "Disciples of Reason", Christian History (Worcester, PA, May 1, 1996), vol. 15, issue 2, p. 28, ill.
Benjamin Franklin, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, ed. Leonard, W. Labaree, Yale University Press (U.S.) (New Haven, CT, and London, 2003), detail on cover; ill. on back cover
Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr. and Melissa Renn, American Paintings at Harvard, Volume One: Paintings, Watercolors, and Pastels by Artists Born before 1826, Yale University Press and Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge and New Haven, 2014), p. 492
- Exhibition History
Washington Lafayette Franklin, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 02/22/1944 - 05/28/1944
Benjamin Franklin: A Perspective, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 04/17/1975 - 09/22/1975
For Students of Art and Lovers of Beauty: Highlights from the Collection of Grenville L. Winthrop, Harvard University Art Museums, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 04/16/2004
32Q: 2240 18th Century, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/01/2014 - 10/06/2016
- Subjects and Contexts
Google Art Project
- Related Works
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