Of the many likenesses  of Franklin that survive, I think the finest and the most perceptive is this one, the magnificent portrait bust made in Paris in 1778-9 by Jean-Antoine Houdon. That’s why I chose it as the frontispiece for Young Benjamin Franklin.


You’ll find the bust described in the opening pages of  my book. Better still – go to Philadelphia to see the bust in the city’s Museum of  Art, where the curators have very wisely placed it atop a pedestal so that you can walk around the bust and see Houdon’s artistry from every angle. In 2015 I  spent several afternoons peering at it closely, with my notebook in hand.