Portrait bust of Benjamin Franklin (Rysbrack), ca. 1760
Photo courtesy of Christie's
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Photo courtesy of Christie's

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The sculpture depicts the head, shoulders and chest of a middle-aged man, presenting him with his head turned slightly toward his right (the viewer's left). He is bareheaded, without a wig; the crown of his head is hairless; his hair falls to his ears at the sides, and to the base of his neck behind. His eyes show the suggestion of pupils; his mouth is compressed in a slight smile.

Rysbrack has used the device of clothing to indicate Franklin's stature: an open-necked working man's shirt; a coat front to suggest a degree of prosperity; and a robe to indicate the scholar or man of intellect.

The subject's head is finished completely; the remainder of the shoulders are smoothed and the back is cut away in a high arc, characteristic of Rysbrack's method of finishing. Under the cut of the back is the inscription "Benjamin Franklin/Michl: Rysbrack/Sculp:"

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