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Joseph Siffred Duplessis, 22 Sep 1725 - 1 Apr 1802
Benjamin Franklin, 17 Jan 1706 - 17 Apr 1790
Oil on canvas
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")
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation
Restrictions & Rights
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.
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