- Museum number
Portrait medallion, jasper ware (stoneware) coloured blue with a darker blue wash on the upper surface, plaque, oval, with applied moulded white jasper ware bust in relief in profile to left of Benjamin Franklin, American statesman; legend impessed; gilt metal frame with elaborate suspension loop in the form of a tied ribbon. Marked.
- Production date
Length: 338 millimetres
Weight: 1578 grammes
Width: 223 millimetres
Depth: 36 millimetres
- Curator's comments
See also 1909,1201.149
In a letter of 6 April 2004 to Neil Macgregor from Dr Page Talbot, Chief Curator of the Franklin Tercentenary Consortium requesting the loan of this plaque, it is stated that our plaque may once have belonged to Franklin on the basis of a letter of January 1778 (whereabouts not stated) documenting the gift of a Bristol plaque. No further details of exactly how the link has been established are known.
This is one of series portraits of eminent men included outstanding scientists and others - Sir William Hamilton, whose influence on British cultural life at this time was considerable; Sir, Joseph Banks himself a naturalist and President of the Royal Society for over four decades; and the American statesman Benjamin Franklin. All are shown in suitably noble style.
Benjamin Franklin was immensely interested in science, carrying out experiments to determine the cause of lightning and investigating electricity. His role in the War of American Inde¬pendence fascinated Wedgwood and his partner who closely followed the events of 1776. The first portrait in a series of no fewer than eight different versions of Franklin is thought to have been created in about 1775 [for some examples see registration nos. 1887,0307,I.75 & 76 and 1909,1201.150 & 151], the rest following within a few years. The large version corresponds with an unusual small medallion in the British Museum collection [registration no. 1887,0307,I.77] and is also an idealised portrait without wig. Thomas Bentley was a co-founder with Franklin of a club of thirteen meeting at Old Slaughter's Coffee House in St Martin's Lane "for the discussion of a philosophical ritual". Wedgwood also became a member of the club which was in existence from as early as 1773.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
Exhibited: (Has Mount)
2009 11 Dec-2010 10 May, Madrid, Canal de Isabel II, Treasures of the World's Cultures
2009 1 May-20 Sep, Victoria, Royal BC Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures
2007 Mar-June, Beijing, Palace Museum, Britain meets the World
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number