Portrait bust of Benjamin Franklin (Houdon - Louvre), 1778
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The medium of terra cotta permits an immediacy that is sometimes lost in marble or bronze. Franklin is shown with a crown of hair at the back of his head, and tendrils of hair falling loosely to his shoulders. His brows are arched, particularly the left brow. The irises of his eyes are delineated sharply, as are the creases at his temples. His lips are parted, and the sides of his mouth are dimpled, as though he is pausing in conversation. Details of tailoring on his coat lapels and waistcoat are rendered in careful detail, as are the gathers at the neck of his shirt and neckcloth. The sides of the bust rise toward the rear at a sharp angle; and the image is signed along the proper right edge, "Houdon f. 1778." At the back of the bust is the red wax studio seal that was used to mark works sold at the auction of his studio following his death.

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