Finely cast and planished bronze bust of Benjamin Franklin supported by a short a dark green marble column. France, 19th century model after the 1778 original.
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) spent time in Paris from 1776 to 85 as a representative of the United States. It is unknown whether Franklin sat for Houdon or if the artist made sketches from observation. Franklin is depicted with his typical natural hair and dressed in a simple Quaker suit – quite the contrast to his diplomatic circles which he was associated with.
The original bust was completed in terracotta by the leading French sculptor, Jean-Antoine Houdon in 1778, which was exhibited at the Royal Academy Salon in 1779. Houdon produced several copies in various materials, through a process of using molds. There are two white marble models in the collections at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Accession Number: 72.6) and the Philadelphia Museum of Art (Accession Number:1996-162-1).
Historically this was one of the first completed busts of an important figure in American history, initiating a popularized taste for busts to be produced, including those of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
Inscripted on the left shoulder – with a set of numbers and letters, most is illegible, possibly signed ‘1778 France’. Bronze in good condition, considering age and use. Two chips in marble at front, top center and bottom center. Dimensions: 19" H x 11" W x 8" D.