Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin, by Joseph Siffred Duplessis, based on a work of 1778 -NPG 327 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Mid-Georgian Portraits Catalogue

Benjamin Franklin

after Joseph Siffred Duplessis
based on a work of 1778
28 in. x 22 1/2 in. (711 mm x 572 mm)
NPG 327

Inscriptionback to top

Signed and dated, illegibly, lower right [G: Menrr. 17, 5]
Original canvas was inscribed: Benjamin Franklin, a L’amerique Sept.le; Mort au Même pays en 1790.

This portraitback to top

One of many derivations from the pastel by Duplessis in the New York Public Library which is generally dated 1778 [1] (and which shows no chair back). A version in oils by Duplessis in the National Portrait Gallery, Washington (87.43), which once belonged to Franklin’s friend and neighbour in Paris, Mme. Brillon, includes the red chair back - which led Sellers to suggest that NPG 327 may once have been owned by her. [2]
The signature and date on NPG 327 defy interpretation; copyists of this type of Franklin portrait by Duplessis included Jean Valade, Alexandre Roslin, Marie Lavoisier [3] and François Baricolo [4] (to whom NPG 327 was once attributed). [5] Miniature versions include examples attributed to François Dumont [6] and Lorentz Sparrgren (Christie’s, 18 December 1990, lot 65).

Footnotesback to top

1) Illus. C. C. Sellers, Benjamin Franklin in Portraiture, 1962, pl.25.
2) C. C. Sellers, Benjamin Franklin in Portraiture, 1962, pp 272 no.5, 275 no.9.
3) Ibid., pp 253, 258, 273.
4) With the Rev T. Davis Lamb, London, in 1865 (Sir George Scharf's Trustees' Sketch Books, 9/79); dated 1783; see also C. C. Sellers, Benjamin Franklin in Portraiture, 1962, pp 275, 422-23.
5) NPG cats. 1888-1914; it was described as by or after J. Wright in 1925, and thereafter as after Duplessis.
6) C. C. Sellers, Benjamin Franklin in Portraiture, 1962, pp 267-69, pl.25; for an example in the Gilbert collection, see S. Coffin & B. Hofstetter, The Gilbert Collection, Portrait Miniatures in Enamel, 2000, no.83.

Referenceback to top

Sellers 1962
C. C. Sellers, Benjamin Franklin in Portraiture, 1962, p 275, no.9.

Physical descriptionback to top

Brown eyes, grey hair, light blue-grey suit; glimpse of a red-upholstered chair on the extreme left.

Provenanceback to top

Henri Stettiner, London, from whom purchased 1871.

Exhibitionsback to top

The Past We Share, Dallas, 1967 (14).

This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Ingamells, National Portrait Gallery: Mid-Georgian Portraits 1760-1790, National Portrait Gallery, 2004, and is as published then. For the most up-to-date details on individual Collection works, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text.

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