Benjamin Franklin (1789)

by Francesco Lazzarini (? - 1808)

Photo Caption: Photo © Association for Public Art
  • Title

    Benjamin Franklin

  • Artist

    Francesco Lazzarini (? - 1808)

  • Year

    1789; installed 1792; relocated 1880, 1940

  • Location

    The Library Company of Philadelphia, 1314 Locust Street

  • Medium


  • Dimensions

    Height 8'2"; width 2'10"; depth 1'11"

  • Themes

    Benjamin Franklins

Gift of William Bingham to The Library Company of Philadelphia

Owned by The Library Company of Philadelphia

At A Glance

  • Philadelphia’s first public monument

  • Commissioned in 1789 by one of Philadelphia’s wealthiest citizens at the time

  • Installed at The Library Company to immortalized the “first librarian” and library’s founder

  • Moved indoors to prevent deterioration

Benajmin Franklin marble sculpture
Photo courtesy Library Company of Philadelphia

Francesco Lazzarini’s Benjamin Franklin was Philadelphia’s very first public monument. Commissioned in 1789 by lawyer William Bingham – one of Philadelphia’s wealthiest citizens at the time – for a site that was visible to the public, Lazzarini’s Franklin paved the way for the support of public art by successive generations of private patrons. The sculpture was installed in 1792 in a niche over the main entrance of The Library Company’s original building at 5th and Chestnut Streets to immortalize the library’s founder and the city’s “first librarian.” The stack of books at Franklin’s side suggests his learning, and his dislike for monarchies was evident in his scepter – now missing – which he held downward. Greatly damaged by exposure to the elements, the sculpture was later moved to the foyer of the new Library Company building at 1314 Locust Street to prevent the marble from further deteriorating. The sculpture is currently on display at The Library Company’s entrance, visible from the street.

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