Sunday, February 13, 2022

Franklin TV: Finding Ben Franklin, Part 3

Who/What/When/Where/Why? The obvious ‘who’ is our subject, Ben himself. The less obvious, but equally important ‘who’ is the artist who portrayed him, Joseph Duplessis.

Given Ben Franklin’s international stature, there were several artists who painted him at various points in his life. Some interpretations are difficult to recognize as Franklin. Fortunately for us, Duplessis was a very talented, detailed realist.

Clear evidence of his immense talent is displayed in his own self-portraits. He rendered the left in 1798, a few years before he died. He is reflective, starkly honest. His earlier 1780 image shows his ability to illuminate his subjects in a most favorable light while maintaining a very high degree of cognitive fidelity. Duplessis could literally sell his talent by just standing next to his own likeness.

He answers the two key questions that are not always aligned with each other.
“Will it look like me?  Will it (I) look good?”  A reconciliation of reality and vanity.

We in Franklin, MA 02038 were certainly not the first to set out on a quest to find Ben Franklin. The U.S. Mint faced the same challenge in its various designs for our $100 dollar bill. They concluded that the Duplessis work was clearly the best reference for creating their own engraved iconic interpretation.

The Duplessis image – it was right on the money.

And –  as always –
Thank you for listening to wfpr●fm. 
And, thank you for watching.


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

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