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[FRANKLIN, Benjamin]. B. Franklin of Philadelphia L.L.D., F.R.S. Mezzotint engraving by James McArdell after Benjamin Wilson (1721-1788). Mezzotint engraving, [London, 1761].
[FRANKLIN, Benjamin]. B. Franklin of Philadelphia L.L.D., F.R.S. Mezzotint engraving by James McArdell after Benjamin Wilson (1721-1788). Mezzotint engraving, [London, 1761].

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[FRANKLIN, Benjamin]. B. Franklin of Philadelphia L.L.D., F.R.S. Mezzotint engraving by James McArdell after Benjamin Wilson (1721-1788). Mezzotint engraving, [London, 1761].

Large folio (13¼ x 9 7/8 in). Mezzotint engraving on laid paper. (Minor mends to lower corners, trimmed close to plate mark on three sides, lower margin cropped with loss of Franklin's degrees). Matted and framed.

FRANKLIN AS SCIENTIST. This striking three-quarter portrait of Franklin was one of the first portraits available to the public, showing the Pennsylvania amateur scientist at the height of his scientific fame. Gordon S. Woods writes "his fame was extraordinary; it was not simply that he was a world class scientist but that he was a colonial from the wilderness...So celebrated was he that enterprising individuals could make money from his image: one of his portraitists, Benjamin Wilson, had engraver James McArdle make mezzotints for sale to the general public" (p.87). Gazing directly at the viewer, the be-wigged Franklin holds a book in his right hand labeled "Electricity Experiments." His right hand points at a stormy sky with bright lightning flashes over a distant city. To the right, behind Franklin, is a table with papers and experimental apparatus including a large glass globe. Sellers, Franklin in Portraiture, p. 413. This print is extremely rare.

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