Portrait of Benjamin Franklin (Peale), 1785
Courtesy of The...
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Courtesy of The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia. Bequest of Mrs. Sarah Harrison (The Joseph Harrison, Jr. Collection)

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The portrait, painted in the style of Peale's "keyhole" portraits of American heroes, shows Franklin's head and shoulders in a three-quarter view. He faces the left edge of the canvas, wearing a brownish coat and waistcoat, and sketchily rendered white cravat. His hair is gray-brown, his eyes are hazel brown. The brushed-in background is gray-green. He wears round-lens, steel-rimmed spectacles with a high bridge and straight arms. Note that Peale has recorded that they are bifocals, by letting viewers see the man's face appearing as a split image through the glass lens.

The painting is unsigned, as are all of Peale's Museum portraits.

Note that the frame is gilded. The oval spandrel or inner frame has not been examined, but its applied carved ornament appears to be post-1850.

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