Portrait of Benjamin Franklin (Martin - PAFA), 1767
Photo courtesy of the...
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Photo courtesy of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia. Gift of Maria McKean Allen and Phebe Warren Downes through the bequest of their mother, Elizabeth Wharton Mckean. www.pafa.org

  • Overview
  • Description
  • Further Information
Franklin is depicted as a scholar or philosopher. He is shown from the waist up, seated in an open armchair upholstered in red, at a table covered in red cloth. A copy of the celebrated bust of Newton by baroque sculptor François Roubiliac gazes down on him. He holds a sheaf of papers in his left hand and reads them attentively; books and papers are spread across the table. He leans on his right arm, with his elbow resting on the table and his chin supported on his right thumb, in a posture described by a contemporary as characteristic of him. His garb is not entirely casual: he wears a bright blue coat with gilt buttons and gold braid, a white wig and spectacles.

There are slight differences in detailing among the versions of this portrait, and among the copies by artists other than Martin. It is perhaps the most copied: an excellent example was painted by the 20th century portraitist Leopold Seyffert, which is now in the collections of The Franklin Institute.

The work is not signed or dated, but an unquestioned attribution to Martin is documented by an entry in Frankln's records (see "Further Information").

The work's present carved wooden frame is narrow, and appears to be walnut.

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