Object Record

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Catalog Number 01.C.34
Object Name Medallion
Title Medallion with Portrait of Benjamin Franklin
Artist Nini, Jean Baptiste
Artist 2 Walpole, Thomas
Date 1777
Description Profile portrait-relief of Benjamin Franklin wearing a fur hat within a circular terracotta medallion. The upper surface of the medallion reads: "B. FRANKLIN / AMERICAIN" around image. Impressed on the tranche of the sitter’s shoulder "Nini / F1777" has been engraved, with an additional "1777" repeated below. A relief shield has been rendered to the right of these inscriptions; the shield is emblazoned with a lightning rod and thunderbolt and surmounted by a crown. The underside of the medallion is plain. There are small indentations at the top for hanging / hardware purposes. The underside bears a sticker that reads, "Nini / Purchased / March 25, 1948"; there are a few additional marks below this inscription that are no longer legible. Over top of this sticker is a piece of cloth tape marked "neg 349" in handwritten pencil script. The overall condition of this object is good. A small chip is present in the ovolo rim, just beneath Franklin’s shoulder.
Label Many artists created images of Benjamin Franklin while he served as U.S. ambassador to France from 1776 to 1785. This bas-relief medallion by Jean-Baptiste Nini, an Italian sculptor working in Paris, was one of the most popular and widely copied Franklin portraits. Nini chose to portray his subject wearing a humble fur hat instead of an aristocratic wig, reflecting Franklin's modest style of dress. Nini’s portrayal was modeled after a preliminary sketch by Thomas Walpole, an acquaintance of Franklin's.
Material Terracotta
Dimensions D-0.5 Dia-4.5 inches
Credit line American Philosophical Society
Search Terms 18th century
eighteenth century
Founding Father