Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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Benjamin Franklin

Artist:
Henry Kirke Brown (American, Leyden, Massachusetts 1814–1886 Newburgh, New York)
Date:
1852
Medium:
Bronze
Dimensions:
9 3/8 x 8 1/2 x 1 3/4 in. (23.8 x 21.6 x 4.4 cm)
Classification:
Sculpture
Credit Line:
Morris K. Jesup Fund, 2004
Accession Number:
2004.44
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 774
In 1852 Brown completed high-relief profile portraits of three American founding fathers - George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790). The Franklin medallion reflects Brown's signature naturalistic modeling of human form, evident in the receding hairline, incised pupils, and fleshy jowls. Likewise, his scrupulous attention to textural variation is reflected in the finely chased and stippled high collar, buttoned jacket, and long hair. This highly finished relief is a superlative example of early American bronze casting and was produced at the Ames Manufacturing Company in Chicopee, Massachusetts. The number of Franklin medallions cast by Ames is not documented; the Metropolitan's bronze is the only located example with a foundry mark. Brown's success with bronze casting inspired the next generation of American sculptors to opt more frequently for bronze instead of marble.
Signature: Brown Sculptor / nov 1852 (underside of truncation)

Marking: J.T. AMES / FOUNDER / CHICOPEE / MASS (stamped at lower center of self back, beneath truncation)
Private collection, New Hampshire; [Conner-Rosenkranz, New York, until 2004]
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