HOUDON, Jean-Antoine

Versailles, Yvelines 1741 - Paris 1828

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)



Dimensions (HxWxD): 13 38 x 11 58 x 9 1316; on base, H. 18 1316 in.

proper right shoulder, cast in: houdon f 1778

Acc. No.: 1943.1269

Credit Line: Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop, 1943.1269

Photo credit: 2009 President and Fellows of Harvard College

© Artist:


  • 1943, bequest of Grenville Lindall Winthrop, New York, to the Fogg Art Museum


  • Museum's website, January 22, 2013
  • 1943 Fogg
    "French Sculpture", Bulletin of the Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Fogg Art Museum, November 1943, p. 61, repr.
  • 1975 Wasserman
    Jeanne L. Wasserman, ed., Metamorphoses in Nineteenth-Century Sculpture, exh. cat., Cambridge, Fogg Art Museum, 1975, no. 10, p. 71, 73
  • 1975 Todd Ambler
    Louise Todd Ambler, Benjamin Franklin: A Perspective, exh. cat., Cambridge, Fogg Art Museum, 1975, no. 47, p. 84-85, repr.


  • 1975 Cambridge
    Benjamin Franklin: A Perspective, Cambridge, Fogg Art Museum, April 17-August 22, 1975, no. 47

    1975-1976 Cambridge
    Metamorphoses in 19th-Century Sculpture, Cambridge, Fogg Art Museum, November 19, 1975-January 7, 1976, no. 10


  • Louise Todd Ambler, Benjamin Franklin: A Perspective, 1975, p. 85:
    Franklin's appearance at the time of his French mission is recorded also in two terra-cotta busts: a life portrait modelled by Jean Jacques Caffiéri in 1777 and exhibited at the Salon the following year; and a bust signed by Jean Antoine Houdon in 1778, which was exhibited at the same Salon - 1779 - as the Duplessis painting. The numerous casts taken from each served as models for many artists who produced Franklin's likeness for years to come, not only in marble, porcelain, bronze, and silver, but in virtually all media from engravings to painted cups. Caffiéri was able to arrange sittings with Franklin, and his stern portrait is undoubtedly the more physiognomically correct of the two. Houdon was acquainted with Franklin through their fraternal and social activities, and is believed to have modelled his bust from memory and, perhaps, informal sketches. This result is a portrait more animated than the careful study of his older rival. Both were reproduced in unglazed porcelain, the Caffiéri with variations, by the royal porcelain manufactory at Sèvres.