Object Record

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Catalog Number 01.C.35
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 shield for this medallion is rendered more clearly than the shield that adorns 01.C.34.) The underside of the medallion is plain. There are small indentations at the top for hanging / hardware purposes. The underside of the medallion bears three stickers. (1) Small rectangular white sticker with angled edges; reads "3?" / "GDH" / "neg 351". (2) White sticker with illegible writing. (3) Older, off-white sticker with black printed border is situated *beneath* sticker #2. The overall condition of this object is fair. Several small chips are present in the ovolo rim as well as on the higher relief surfaces of Franklin’s portrait.
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