Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790), Workshop of Joseph Siffred Duplessis (French, Carpentras 1725–1802 Versailles), Oil on canvas

Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790)

Artist:
Workshop of Joseph Siffred Duplessis (French, Carpentras 1725–1802 Versailles)
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
Oval, 27 5/8 x 22 1/4 in. (70.2 x 56.5 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Gift of George A. Lucas, 1895
Accession Number:
95.21
Not on view
This is a replica of the portrait exhibited at the Salon of 1779. It is inscribed (reverse, possibly by the artist, now covered by relining canvas; see Additional Images, fig. 1): Peint par Duplessis pour / obliger monsieur le vicomte / De Buissy (painted by Duplessis to oblige the vicomte de Buissy)

For Duplessis it would have been a coup to have received from Le Ray de Chaumont a commission for a portrait of the much admired American envoy to the French court, Benjamin Franklin, sometimes referred to as "the fur-collar portrait," which was shown at the 1779 Salon and belongs to the Metropolitan Museum (32.100.132). The original was received with enthusiasm by the critics and the public alike and additional versions and copies from the artist’s workshop were sought after and collected, for the same reason that a photograph of a famous personage might be acquired today by an admirer. This is one the best of the workshop replicas.

[Katharine Baetjer 2011]
Inscription: Inscribed (reverse, now covered by relining canvas): Peint par Duplessis pour / obliger monsieur le vicomte / De Buissy (painted by Duplessis to oblige the vicomte de Buissy)
vicomte de Buissy; George A. Lucas, Paris (until 1895)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Retrospective Exhibition of American Paintings: Loan Collections and Recent Gifts to the Museum [MMA Handbook No. 6]," 1895, no. 173 (as by Duplessis, presented by George A. Lucas, Paris).

New York. Wildenstein. "The French Revolution," December 1943, no. 13 (as by Duplessis).

Nashville. Fisk University. "[title not known]," April 20–August 15, 1951, no catalogue.

Atlanta University. "[title not known]," September 1, 1951–January 30, 1952, no catalogue.

New Orleans. Dillard University. "[title not known]," February 1–April 30, 1952, no catalogue.

Duluth. Tweed Gallery, University of Minnesota. "Object of the Month," May 1–31, 1954, no catalogue.

Little Rock. Arkansas Arts Center. "Five Centuries of European Painting," May 16–October 26, 1963, unnumbered cat. (p. 35, as Workshop of Duplessis).

New York. Grey Art Gallery and Study Center, New York University. "Circa 1776," November 1–24, 1976, unnumbered cat. (p. 49).

St. Louis. Missouri Historical Society. "Benjamin Franklin: In Search of A Better World," June 8–September 4, 2006, not in catalogue (this painting replaced Duplessis original [MMA 32.100.132, fig. 7.1] in St. Louis and Houston).

Houston Museum of Natural Science. "Benjamin Franklin: In Search of A Better World," October 11, 2006–January 21, 2007, not in catalogue (this painting replaced Duplessis original [MMA 32.100.132, fig. 7.1] in St. Louis and Houston).

Denver Museum of Nature and Science. "Benjamin Franklin: In Search of A Better World," March 2, 2007–May 20, 2007.

Atlanta History Center. "Benjamin Franklin: In Search of A Better World," July 4–October 14, 2007.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Benjamin Franklin: Portraits by Duplessis," August 22–November 28, 2016, no catalogue.

George A. Lucas. Journal entry. November 8, 1895 [published in "The Diary of George A. Lucas: An American Art Agent in Paris, 1857–1909." Ed. Lilian M. C. Randall. Princeton, 1979, vol. 2, p. 816].

John Clyde Oswald. Benjamin Franklin in Oil and Bronze. New York, 1926, pp. 10, 12, ill. p. 14, comments that Duplessis's portraits of Franklin are known as "fur collar" portraits.

Bryson Burroughs and Harry B. Wehle. "The Michael Friedsam Collection: Paintings." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 27, section 2 (November 1932), p. 50, call it a replica of the Friedsam portrait, noting that the success of this image was such that "the artist had to make or to have made many copies of it"; remark that nine are known.

Charles Sterling. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of French Paintings. Vol. 1, XV–XVIII Centuries. Cambridge, Mass., 1955, p. 173, as one of several workshop replicas of Duplessis's 1778 portrait.

Charles Coleman Sellers. Benjamin Franklin in Portraiture. New Haven, 1962, p. 259, no. 16, notes that in 1777 Franklin was in contact with a Baron de Bissy.

Thierry Bajou in The Dictionary of Art. Ed. Jane Turner. Vol. 9, New York, 1996, p. 400.

F. Marandet in Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon: die bildenden Künstler aller Zeiten und Völker. Vol. 31, Munich, 2002, p. 57.

Jean-Paul Chabaud. Joseph-Siffred Duplessis, 1725–1802: Biographie. Mazan, 2003, p. 41.

John Ingamells. National Portrait Gallery: Mid-Georgian Portraits, 1760–1790. London, 2004, p. 173.