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Benjamin Franklin

Title: Benjamin Franklin
Artist: Martin, David    
Date of Work: 1767
Medium/Support: oil on canvas on panel
Measurements: 50 1/16 x 39 15/16 in (127.2 x 101.4 cm)
Inscribed: No
Acquisition Information: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Walter H. Annenberg
Acquisition Number: 962.187.1
Credit Line: The White House Historical Association (White House Collection)
Scholar's Notes:

"[T]he portrait [of Benjamin Franklin] was commissioned by Robert Alexander, of the firm of William Alexander & Sons, Edinburgh. . . . The impressive beribboned document held by Franklin in the portrait is not a treaty or an Act of Parliament, but one of Alexander's deeds! The other books and pamphlets suggest the learned evidence brought in support of a wise man's decision. . . . [T]he bust of Isaac Newton, whose gaze is directed toward Franklin, invokes the greatest English voice of Reason. . . . "[T]he portrait nonetheless sits squarely in the broader tradition of Enlightenment . . . . The pressure of the thumb against the chin . . . expresses the pressure of concentrated thought (the painting has sometimes been called the 'thumb portrait'), and the refracted light of Franklin's spectacles on his cheek furthers the effect."

Source of Scholar's Notes: Kloss, William, et al. Art in the White House: A Nation's Pride. Washington, D.C.: The White House Historical Association, 2008.
Page Number(s) in Source: 57
People: Franklin, Benjamin   
Categories: White House Art Collection  
Type: portraits   
Orientation: Portrait
Image ID: 153
Date (chronological sort): 1767