The Portraits

Staff member working in collections and putting a painting away

Benjamin Franklin

Artist
Joseph Siffred Duplessis, 22 Sep 1725 - 1 Apr 1802
Sitter
Benjamin Franklin, 17 Jan 1706 - 17 Apr 1790
Date
c. 1785
Type
Painting
Medium
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
Stretcher: 72.4 x 59.7 x 3.8cm (28 1/2 x 23 1/2 x 1 1/2")
Frame: 92.7 x 80 x 8.3cm (36 1/2 x 31 1/2 x 3 1/4")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation
Object number
NPG.87.43
Exhibition Label
Born Boston, Massachusetts
Benjamin Franklin, in his day the most famous American in the world, was renowned for his scientific accomplishments as much as for his political and diplomatic triumphs. Known as a "natural philosopher," as scientists were termed in the eighteenth century, Franklin was celebrated for his experiments with electricity, but he also conducted experiments in other areas and invented devices as varied as a stove and bifocal eyeglasses. He also reorganized and expanded the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia and was often the conduit for correspondence between Americans and Europeans who were studying botany, chemistry, physics, and other sciences. By the mid-1780s, when this portrait was created, Franklin was representing the new republic in France, where he was revered for his wit and scientific knowledge.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection
Exhibition
American Origins
On View
NPG, East Gallery 150a
Place
France\Île-de-France\Ville de Paris, Départment de\Paris