Portrait print of Benjamin Franklin (Chamberlin/Fisher), 1763
Collection of Stuart E....
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Collection of Stuart E. Karu. Photo by Peter Harholdt

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Copied from Mason Chamberlin's oil portrait (qv). Below the image is inscribed "M:Chamberlin pinxt. E. Fisher fecit." Centered below is: "B:Franklin of Philadelphia L.L.D. F.R.S. / Sold by M. Chamberlin in Stewart Street, Old Artillery Ground, Spitalfields. Price 5s."

Franklin's son, William, ordered a hundred of these prints through William Strahan. His large order may have been in part a commercial venture. Franklin purchased numbers of these and sent them to friends as souvenirs, as witnessed by his note to a Parisian in 1769, "As I cannot soon again enjoy the Happiness of being personally in your Company, permit my Shadow to pay my Respects to you." This image was copied by François-Nicolas Martinet in 1773 for a print that served as the frontispiece to a French edition of Franklin's writings.

The image was a popular one, and is found in several American public collections, including that of the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. (NPG.78.74), and the Philadelphia Museum of Art (1956-90-1). It is also among the group of maps, prints and drawings owned by a descendent of Franklin and believed by the family to have belonged to him (lending strength to the supposition that Franklin may have owned numbers of these and have given them as gifts). Examples of the print are occasionally offered commercially.

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