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Benjamin Franklin

ca. 1906 William Couper Born: Norfolk, Virginia 1853 Died: Easton, Maryland 1942 marble 37 x 29 3/4 x 16 1/2 in. (94.0 x 75.6 x 41.9 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of the American Museum of Natural History 1960.10.2 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 3rd Floor, 20B

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Benjamin Franklin

Luce Center Quote

“I have been strongly impressed with the character of the men as you have expressed it in these portraits.” Morris K. Jessup, President of the American Museum of Natural History, to William Couper, January 1, 1907

Luce Center Label

Between 1904 and 1906, the director of the American Museum of Natural History in New York commissioned William Couper to create twelve heroic portrait busts of internationally famous scientists. Couper hoped that the prominent display of the busts in the museum’s foyer would lead to future commissions. He researched the lives of each scientist carefully and made multiple models until he was convinced that he had captured not only the likeness, but also the spirit of each man. Two years of painstaking work paid off when the director praised the impressive installation. This portrait of Benjamin Franklin remained in the Museum of Natural History until 1960, when Couper’s busts were distributed to other institutions.


Occupation - political - statesman

Portrait male - Franklin, Benjamin - bust


stone - marble