Benjamin Franklin Portrait 18th Century "Leaders of the American Revolution" Enamel Transfer
This image of Benjamin Franklin is one of the portraits from a very rare series of enamel transferware "Leaders of the American Revolution" that was made in Europe (Likely England) during and following the American Revolutionary War.
Franklin is depicted in his well known fur cap based upon the 1777 drawing by French artist Charles Nicholas Cochin. This very beautiful image entitled "Dr. Franklin" is depicted in an unusual purple/black ink transfer that is crisp and detailed. This portrait series was created between 1777-1790, but this particular piece has an earlier depiction of Franklin using the title "Dr. Franklin" so was likely created before 1785 during Franklin's lifetime.
This piece measures approximately 2" X 1 1/2" on the face. It has a stem with hand wrought threading, and was used as a mirror knob, curtain tie, or drawer pull. It has a length of approximately 2 7/8" with the stem.
It is in extraordinary condition as you can see in the images. While 90% of the enamel transferware from this period displays aging, damage, and cracking, this example is basically in pristine mint condition, just like the day it was made. This is even more incredible considering the fact that this was created over 230 years ago, during Franklin's lifetime.
The piece is displayed in a custom gilt framed shadow box of later manufacture, likely the early 20th century, but it is of the style of the 18th century period in which the Franklin piece was created. This enclosure may account for the perfect condition of the portrait piece.
The enamel transferware portraits from the "Leaders of the American Revolution" series are all extremely rare, but this particular portrait of the iconic Benjamin Franklin is an even more exceedingly rare piece of history - I am only aware of one other example in existence, in the Winterthur Museum (Delaware) collection, accession # 1958.0047.001. This example is far superior to the Winterthur's which has cracks and some loss of the enamel.
This is one of the rarest and finest condition 18th century Benjamin Franklin decorative portraits from his lifetime, and an important addition to any serious Revolutionary War, Benjamin Franklin, or Federal Period collection.