Benjamin Franklin, c. 1785, Oil on canvas by Joseph Siffred Duplessis
Benjamin Franklin, in his day the most famous American in the world, returned from his years representing colonial interests in England just in time to be unanimously elected to represent Pennsylvania at the Second Continental Congress. Behind him was a lifetime of achievement as a printer, an unsurpassed author of wit and wisdom, an inventor, and a scientist. Ahead were his roles as a signer of the Declaration of Independence and as a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1787. In between was his triumph as a diplomat in France, where this portrait was ordered by Madame Brillon de Jouy, who loved Franklin's "droll roguishness which shows that the wisest of men allows his wisdom to be perpetually broken against the rocks of femininity."
In 1995 this portrait was selected as the basis for Franklin's engraving on the redesigned $100 bill.