Object Record

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Catalog Number 01.C.31
Object Name Painting
Title Miniature Portrait of Benjamin Franklin
Other Name Miniature
Artist Unknown
Date 19th c.
Description Case opens like book, with clasp. Portrait painted on ivory is on right side when opened, set into gold-toned metal frame. Franklin wears fur coat. Opposite side is padded velvet.
Label Painted in watercolor on ivory after the iconic, full-size 1778 "fur collar portrait" by Joseph Siffred Duplessis, this miniature reveals Franklin’s carefully constructed public face. Yet the intimate scale of this item – an object that can be held in one’s hand and viewed privately – invites a more personal reading of the famous statesman. Trained artists and amateurs alike copied Duplessis’ image, and after 1779 Franklin reportedly suggested to admirers that they commission copies of the portrait rather than painting him from life. The portrait's "Union" case was normally used for daguerreotypes (early photographs on silvered copper plates), but such cases could also house non-photographic miniatures.
Medium Watercolor
Dimensions H-2.936 W-2.5 D-0.813 inches
Dimension Details Open width: 5.25
Credit line American Philosophical Society
Search Terms 19th century
nineteenth century
Founding Father
painting