Franklin's Reception at the Court of France 1778 by John Smith

Franklin's Reception at the Court of France 1778 by John Smith

This copy of an earlier lithograph depicts Benjamin Franklin, the American Minister at the Court of France, receiving a laurel wreath from Countess Diana Polignac. Amid the elegant finery of the French aristocracy, Franklin is easily identifiable, clothed simply in a brown suit.
The image of a frugal, industrious, unpretentious republican American was something Franklin cultivated. He owned more than one of these “Quaker” or “ditto” suits, made of plum-colored silk. The Museum owns one of these suits (2012.0187.001), which Franklin wore in Paris during the year of the signing of the Treaty of Alliance.
The event depicted is a celebration after the signing of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce and the Treaty of Alliance, which was signed February 6, 1778, in Paris. These agreements established a commercial alliance that provided financial aid and authorized military support for the American colonies during the Revolutionary War. The celebration of the treaties took place ten days later at Versailles Palace.
The flatly drawn members of the French court (from left to right) include: Duchesse Jules de Polignac, Princesse Marie Therese Louise de Savoie-Carignan Lamballe (holding flowers), Comtesse Diana Polignac (holding wreath), Comte de Vergennes, Mme. Campan, Comtesse de Neuilly, Marie-Antoinette, Queen Consort of Louis XVI (seated), King Louis XVI, and Princesse Elizabeth. As a popular celebrity diplomat, Franklin was a favorite with the ladies and spent much of his time with the socially and intellectually elite. This large print was probably produced for municipal buildings, upper -class homes, or businesses, and perhaps the more affluent academies or schools.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Object Type
date made
ca 1869
Franklin, Benjamin
Smith, John
place made
United States: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
ink (overall material)
image: 18 1/2 in x 26 3/8 in; 46.99 cm x 66.9925 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Harry T. Peters "America on Stone" Lithography Collection
Architecture, Historic Residences
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Domestic Life
Domestic Furnishings
Peters Prints
NMAH Reception Suite
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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