Figure Group - Louis XVI and Benjamin Franklin
Niderviller factory (active 1754-1827)
Niderviller, France ca. 1780-1785
This beautiful porcelain sculpture was made in the Niderviller factory in France to commemorate the signing of two treaties (The Treaty of Alliance and The Treaty of Amity and Commerce) between France and the fledgling United States. The power and majesty of France is represented by the elegant figure of Louis XVI dressed in courtly attire. America is represented by Franklin, plainly clothed and gesturing humbly to the king. The sculpture gives tribute to one of the turning points in the American struggle for independence and illustrates the important alliance between the two nations.
Writing Table (Treaty of Paris Desk)
England, ca. 1780
It was on this desk that the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783 – ending the American Revolutionary War. The desk was in the Paris apartments of the British Commissioner, David Hartley, who was negotiating on behalf of England. On the morning of September 3, 1783, Mr. Hartley invited the American negotiators, John Jay, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, to come to his apartments and sign the Treaty of Paris, establishing American independence.
The American Commissioners
Unknown Artist After Benjamin West
This painting depicts the American participants in the signing of the Preliminary Articles of Peace between the United States and Great Britain in Paris on November 30, 1782. The five men present (from left to right) are John Jay, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Henry Laurens, and William Temple Franklin. The British Commissioner and his secretary did not come to the artist’s studio and therefore were not included. The definitive Treaty of Paris was signed the following year on September 3rd, 1783 ending the American Revolutionary War and marking the beginning of our country’s independence.
Portrait of Benjamin Franklin
This oil pastel was commissioned soon after Benjamin Franklin arrived in France in 1776. Franklin was well known in Europe as a philosopher and scientist, and became a beloved American figure and diplomat in France. The French were charmed by Franklin’s natural, “rustic” ways, and he sat for dozens of portraits to ensure that this image was spread widely. Franklin’s diplomacy was instrumental in securing France’s vital participation in negotiating American Independence from Great Britain. He is still honored today as the Father of American diplomacy.
China, ca. 1780
In 1784, after just becoming a nation, the U.S. sent its first trade mission to China. With the new possibility of trade, souvenirs commemorating this event were created and focused on the bustling port of Canton (Guangzhou) and the many hongs (the offices, warehouses, and living spaces for foreign merchants) that lined the trade routes. These souvenirs were known as “hong bowls”.
China, ca. 2008
In 2008, the U.S. opened a new Embassy in Beijing to better facilitate our evolving diplomacy after uncertain times in the second half of the twentieth century. The United States and China worked together to recreate this 200-year-old object to reflect our shared past and hopes for the future. The new hong bowl highlights the new embassy in its design and represents the great potential of Chinese and American joint diplomatic efforts. It resides in the collection of the United States Diplomacy Center at the U.S. Department of State.