Statuette of Benjamin Franklin (Ralph Wood), ca. 1790
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Photo Courtesy of Diplomatic Reception Rooms, U.S. Department of State

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The polychrome figure of Franklin stands as though addressing a public gathering: his head raised and to his right, his left foot forward in an oratorical pose, his left hand holding a volume, his right elevated slightly. He is dressed in a blue-edged lavender coat and brown-edged pale yellow breeches. His shoes are iron-red. Around his shoulders is a green-lined pale lavender cloak. He stands on a waisted square plinth with raised oval paterae edged in blue on front and sides. The edges of the plinth are banded with brown; the words "Dr." and "Franklin" are on the two sides of the oval motif.

The figure is related to a statuette by Ralph Wood the Elder (1715-1772), believed to have been created when Franklin was first in London. This version, however, was made much later in the century, probably as a memorial following Franklin's death in 1790. Both appear to have adapted an already existing image of a standing man by adding the words "Dr. Franklin" to the base.

Bert and Ellen Paul Denker, authors of the entry in Treasures of State, cite an example from the Nelson A. Rockefeller Collection sold at Sotheby's New York, April 11, 1980, Lot 97; they also direct readers to Falkner (see Publications).

The New-York Historical Society collections contain an example of this polychrome statuette (1924.89) from the collection of charles Allen Munn. It can be seen on their website. Terms of Use Credits