"BENJAMIN FRANKLIN" IN BRONZE AFTER MODEL BY JEAN-JULES SALMSON (FRENCH, 1823-1902)
Titled "Franklin" front edge, signed "Vauvray Freres" and "Salmson Sculpt" verso; circa 1870-90
Item # 611PAN03W
An exceptional sculpture of bold dimensions and photographic realism in detail and execution, the work captures a standing Benjamin Franklin with hat and walking staff in hand; behind him a thick leaf of papers are pressed inside a clamp, clearly an homage to his beginnings as a printer where he eventually took over The Pennsylvania Gazette and led it to be the most successful newspaper in the Colonies. His face is captured in thought, his furrowed brow betraying a pensive demeanor while he considers his next move. The work is finished most exquisitely in a green patina with hints of reds and browns rubbing through, a complex color to achieve and most effective in the work. The work is titled along the front edge “Franklin” and is signed on the press “Salmson Sculpt”, an engraved signature of the foundry verso reading “Vauvray Freres”. Vauvray was well regarded throughout the last half of the 19th century for their skilled work in casting elements and sculpture for clocks.
Jean-Jules-Bernard Salmson was born on July 18th 1823 in Paris, studying under Dumont, Ramey and Toussaint at l'Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He first debuted at Salon in 1859, subsequently working on monument sculptures at the Tuileries, the Tribunal de Commerce, the Opera and the city hall of la Rochelle in Paris. He won second-class medals in both 1863 and 1867 at Salon and was awarded Chevalier of the Legion d’Honneur in 1867. After the war of 1870, Salmson went to London and then on to Geneva where the government appointed him to be director of the School of Industrial Arts. He produced a large body of historical statuettes, including Henry IV, Lord Byron, Walter Scott, Milton, Shakespeare, Charles the 1st, Elisabeth, Marie Stuart, Henri VIII, Hamlet, Ophélie, Van Dyck, Rubens and Washington among others. However, his most cherished works are the oriental subjects he produced, largely capturing Arab warriors, hunters, daily life in the Middle East and North Africa and genre groups. He died on May 7th 1902 in Coupvray, France.
- Dictionaire des Sculpteurs de L’Ecole Française, vol. IV, 1921, Stanislas Lami, p. 228-230
- E. Benezit Dictionary of Artists, vol. XII, 2006, Gründ, p. 315
- Art Bronzes, 1988, Michael Forrest, p. 483
- Bronzes of the Nineteenth Century, Dictionary of Sculptors, 1994, Pierre Kjellberg, p. 609-610
Measurements: 25 1/2” H x 9” W x 8” D
Original patina with light handling wear; surface oxidization and discolorations as expected. Overall exceptional condition.