19th Century Bronze Benjamin Franklin Bust by Auguste Poitevin

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This is a striking 19th century bronze bust of Benjamin Franklin by the French sculptor Auguste Poitevin (1819-1873). One of the leading figures of early American history, Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) was a statesman, author, publisher, scientist, inventor, and diplomat.

Franklin was a key player during the American Revolution. He served in the Second Continental Congress and helped draft the Declaration of Independence in 1776. That same year, Congress sent Franklin to France to enlist that nation’s help with the War. As a result, the French signed a military alliance with America and went on to provide soldiers, supplies and money that proved critical to America’s victory. Franklin also negotiated the 1783 Treaty of Paris, which ended the Revolutionary War. In 1787, in his final significant act of public service, Franklin served as a delegate to the convention that produced the U.S. Constitution. 

The sculptor, Auguste Poitevin, was born in La Frère in July of 1818. He studied in Paris and was a pupil of François Rude and Étienne Hippolyte. In 1846, Potevin exhibited his first important work, representing ‘The Devotion of Viala.” His celebrated sculpture “Judith” was completed in 1849, and was followed by several remarkable busts. He executed bronzes archetypal of the fine arts for the Louvre, and has two statues embodying Greek art and the Renaissance at the museum at Amiens.

Franklin was an incredibly popular figure in France; his visage appeared in bronze and marble busts, printed engravings, paintings, and coins. As a French sculptor working in and around Paris, Poitevin would have grown up studying those artistic depictions of Franklin, as well as heard stories of his influence and warm reception during his stint as minister of France. It is no surprise that Poitevin was moved to create this handsome bust of the great thinker and statesman.  

The bust depicts Franklin in simple dress and without a fashionable wig. Franklin had a reputation of wearing very plain clothes throughout his whole stay at French court, which distinguished him among the lavishly dressed King, Queen, and courtiers.

The bust is signed at the bottom pedestal with “A. POITEVIN” on one side and “BOY” on the other. The bust measures 25"h x 13"w x 9"d.




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