Congress Voting Independence, 1796-1801
Photo by  Peter Harholdt
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Photo by Peter Harholdt

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The painting depicts the Assembly Room of the Pennsylvania State House (now known as Independence Hall) and includes portrait vignettes of many of the signers. Featured prominently are members of the committee to draft the Declaration of Independence: Jefferson is the tall man depositing the Declaration on the table. Benjamin Franklin sits to his right. John Adams, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston stand behind Jefferson. Hancock is behind the table in the center. Franklin is shown at center front of the composition, in profile, seated on a Windsor armchair. He sits with knees crossed, his elbow on his knee, and his chin resting on his hand, as though in contemplation of the magnitude of the event.

The images of the members of the Congress were not drawn from life, but from existing representations of them. That of Franklin is attributed by Sellers to a profile painted by Joseph Sansom (1767-1826), or possibly to a lost tavern sign painted by Matthew Pratt (1743-1805).

The interior of the room seems, however, to have been drawn from the artist's observation of it; and its detail assisted in the building's restoration.

Connection to Franklin
Historical scene depicting Franklin Terms of Use Credits