Apotheosis of Benjamin Franklin and George Washington (toile), 1785-1800
Detail. Collection of...
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Detail. Collection of Robert Staples and Barbara Fahs Charles

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This example, printed on bleached cotton by a plate inked with sepia or light brown dyes, contains in a single repeat an elaborate allegory. Washington and Franklin, representing the new nation's political and intellectual freedom, are conducted to the "Temple of Fame" by the goddesses who are their patrons.

On the left, beneath emblems of war that include a cannon and balls, a drum, a shield, and furled banners, Washington stands in a chariot drawn by leopards. He is attended by a classically gowned woman wearing a feather headdress (perhaps the new United States?). Marching behind the chariot are ranks of soldiers beneath American and French banners. His advance is trumpeted by an Indian putto whose horn sports a striped banner; from another trumpet blown by an unseen putto hangs a banner bearing Franklin's "Don't Tread on Me" image. Above that vignette, on the right, walks Franklin in a long coat and round fur cap. Curling above his head is a banner blazoned with his motto, "Where liberty dwells, there is my country." Franklin is led by Athene, the goddess of Wisdom, bearing an oval shield with 13 stars. He is followed by Liberty holding a slender pike crowned by a liberty cap. The ground of the repeat is filled by clusters of vegetation and three smaller motifs: two putti at the entrance to the temple, holding an oval image of the new United Stated from the Wallis map; a watery bank with a hungry heron and a beaver; and a fortress-crowned hill (representing Boston's Bunker Hill) besieged by troops at its base.

Connection to Franklin
Allegorical scene depicting Franklin
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