Sunday, January 16, 2022

Franklin.TV: Finding Ben Franklin, Part 1

by Pete Fasciano, Executive Director 01/16/2022

Our town seal is uncommon. It features a portrait – a likeness of Ben Franklin. The town of Hamilton, MA followed suit. Town seals appear in many places. The visual challenges of portraiture are many. Every portrait artist understands the most essential challenge; producing a likeness of the subject that is at once accurate yet flattering. How to cast someone in their very best light. That can be a reach in some instances.
Finding Ben Franklin
You look so wonderful in this light.
Too bad you’re so seldom in this light. – Groucho Marx
In attempting to meet the first visual challenge (flattery), the mechanics of reproducing a town seal as that – a notary seal – pose the second challenge that comes with limited resolution and clarity. This is where things can turn ugly (literally).  

God is in the details. So too, is good portraiture that faithfully captures the uniqueness and nuance of a person’s likeness. When photography first emerged in the early 1800’s it was considered a bane on the art world. In short order, artists discovered its great value as a tool of their work. They could document their subjects from several viewpoints and have an
ever-patient record of all that nuance and detail to work from.

Unfortunately, photography came too late for Ben and the other founding fathers. This leaves us with only the interpretive record of their portraits. There are portraits, and then there are portraits of portraits – and so on – reinterpretations.

If there is a signature within every human face, it is often in the eyes. It’s where we gaze when we see others. It’s how we interpret their emotions and thoughts. If the eyes are indeed the window to the soul, I seek to understand Ben Franklin’s soul.

This is where my journey of portraiture begins.

And – as always –
Thank you for listening to wfprfm.
And, thank you for watching. 

Get this week's program guide for Franklin.TV and Franklin Public Radio ( online     

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