The bust made by Jean-Jaques Caffieri, depicting Benjamin Franklin with a bare head, in a frock coat, waistcoat and stock tie, was shown in the Louvre in 1777, and was later in the collection of King Louis XVI (now in the Bibliotheque Mazarin In Paris). Many replicas were made in marble, plaster and bronze in later years. One of these replicas is the sculpture under discussion, whose size differs only slightly from the original (the bust in the Bibliotheque Mazarin is 52 cm high).
From 1784 the sculpture was in the collection of King Stanisław August; in 1817 it was in the collection of plaster casts at the University of Warsaw. Before 1939 it was exhibited in the King's Antechamber at the Royal Castle in Warsaw. In the years 1939–84 it was stored at the National Museum in Warsaw; from 1993 property of the Royal Castle in Warsaw.
Jean-Jacques Caffieri (Paris 1725–1792 Paris)
French Sculptor. Having completed his apprenticeship in his father's workshop, Jacques Caffieri, he continued his studies under Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne and at the Académie de France in Rome (1740–53); he was awarded the Prix de Rome. In the years 1757–79 he was a professor at the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture in Paris. Author of portrait busts and sculptures of religious and allegorical subjects.
Benjamin Franklin (1706–90), American politician, publicist and physicist. He was author of the first theory about electricity; he was interested in botany, medicine and studied sea currents. He was appointed the United States’ Minister to France between 1776 and 1785. He helped draft the Declaration of Independence and was a co-author of the US Constitution of 1787.
Franklin’s arrival in Paris in 1776 gave rise to a wave of interest in him not only among politicians but also artists, many of whom made portraits of the American. These artists included Claude Dajoux, Pierre-François Berruer, Caffieri as well as the most outstanding sculptor of the period – Jean-Antoine Houdon, who made two busts of Franklin (in 1779 and 1791).