During his time, Benjamin Franklin was the most famous American in the world. He remains highly visible today as the face on the $100 bill; this portrait was selected as the basis for that engraving in 1995.

Franklin represented colonial interests in England from 1757 to 1775. Upon his return, he was unani-mously elected to represent Pennsylvania at the Second Continental Congress. Behind him was
a lifetime of achievement as a printer, an unsur-passed author of wit and wisdom, an inventor, and a scientist. Ahead were his roles as a signer of the Declaration of Independence and a member of the Constitutional Convention. In between was his tri-umph as a diplomat in France (1776–85), where this portrait was commissioned by Madame Brillon de Jouy. In a letter, she praised Franklin for his sound moral teaching and lively imagination but found his “droll roguishness” most endearing.


  • Title: Benjamin Franklin
  • Creator: Joseph Siffred Duplessis
  • Date Created: c. 1785
  • Physical Dimensions: w59.7 x h72.4 x d3.8 cm (Stretcher)
  • Type: Oil on canvas
  • Rights: National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation
  • External Link: https://npg.si.edu/portraits
  • Classification: Painting

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