Skip to main content

New Schedule: Beginning May 30, many Smithsonian museums will return to their normal operating hours, open seven days a week, including the National Portrait Gallery. We’re excited to welcome you! 

Benjamin Franklin

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")
Topic
Home Furnishings\Furniture\Seating\Chair
Benjamin Franklin: Male
Benjamin Franklin: Literature\Writer
Benjamin Franklin: Politics and Government\Statesman\Colonial Statesman
Benjamin Franklin: Politics and Government\Congressman\Continental congressman
Benjamin Franklin: Politics and Government\Statesman\Colonial Statesman\Signer of Declaration
Benjamin Franklin: Science and Technology\Scientist
Benjamin Franklin: Politics and Government\Diplomat
Benjamin Franklin: Society and Social Change\Philanthropist
Benjamin Franklin: Science and Technology\Inventor
Benjamin Franklin: Crafts and Trades\Craftsman\Printer
Benjamin Franklin: Politics and Government\Government Official\Postmaster
Portrait
Place
France\Île-de-France\Ville de Paris, Départment de\Paris
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation
Restrictions & Rights
CC0
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.
Provenance
Sitter; gift to Anne Louise Boyvin d'Hardancourt, Mme. Brillon de Jouy [1744-1824]. Her descendant Gilles de Carpentier, Toulouse; sold through (Meredith Frapier, Paris) to NPG 1987
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery