Franklin in Portraits: Robert Feke

Portrait of Benjamin Franklin as a young man

Thursday 11 March, 12pm ET/5pm GMT. Register here

To celebrate the launch of our virtual exhibition, Franklin in Portraits, join us for the first in a series of talks about Benjamin Franklin’s most famous portraits over the years. We begin our series with a discussion on what is widely believed to be the earliest known portrait of Benjamin Franklin painted by Robert Feke in 1738-1746. This lesser known portrait, currently part of Harvard Museum of Art collection, depicts Franklin as a traditional gentleman typical of the period. Dr George Boudreau will be in conversation with Professor Zara Anishanslin to discuss the significance of this early portrait and the wider context of 18th century portraiture.

Dr George Boudreau is a cultural historian of early Anglo-America, specializing in the history of Philadelphia, the work of Benjamin Franklin, material culture, and public history. Boudreau was the founding editor of the journal Early American Studies, and has won six major grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities. He was a fellow at Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington in 2019-20 and has previously completed fellowships at the Jamestown Rediscovery and the Omohundro Institute for Early American History and Culture at Williamsburg, the International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello, the Library Company of Philadelphia, Winterthur Museum and Library, the American Philosophical Society, and the David Library of the American Revolution. A 1998 Ph.D. from Indiana University, he is currently senior research associate at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and is a member of the Academic Advisory Panel for Benjamin Franklin House.

Professor Zara Anishanslin specializes in Early American and Atlantic World History, with a focus on eighteenth-century material culture. Anishanslin received her PhD in the History of American Civilization at the University of Delaware in 2009, where her dissertation won the prize for Best Dissertation in the Humanities.  In 2011, it also won the University of Pennsylvania’s Zuckerman National Prize in American Studies, and was the basis for her book Portrait of a Woman in Silk: Hidden Histories of the British Atlantic World (Yale University Press, 2016), which was a Finalist for the Best First Book Prize from the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians and the Inaugural Winner of (Benjamin Franklin’s own!) Library Company of Philadelphia’s Biennial Best Book Award. In 2019-20, she was a Barra Sabbatical Postdoctoral Fellow at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She also held postdoctoral fellowships as a 2014-15 Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the New-York Historical Society and the Patrick Henry Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of History at Johns Hopkins University in 2009-2010. In 2018-19, Anishanslin was the Mount Vernon Fellow at the Georgian Papers Programme of King’s College University of London and the Royal Archives at Windsor Castle. She also served as Material Culture Consultant for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton: The Exhibition in 2018-19. She is currently a fellow at the Davis Center for Historical Studies at Princeton University, working on her new monograph, London Patriots: Transatlantic Politics, Material Culture, and the American Revolution.