Philadelphia - A rare oil painting of Benjamin Franklin grabbing his crotch and pointing at Thomas Jefferson during the Constitutional Convention sold for ten million dollars at auction yesterday. It is believed to be the largest sum of money spent on a painting of the Constitutional Convention since Aaron Spelling purchased the lone print of Alexander Hamilton holding John Adams in a headlock during the Bicentennial Auction of 1976.
The winning bid was submitted by renowned historian – and Pittsburgh native – David McCullough. Mr. McCullough said he plans to display the painting in the first floor powder room of his home. The painting, entitled “I’ve Got Your States Rights Right Here,” was done by Charles Wilson Peale. Mr. Peale was known as the official painter of the Founding Fathers.
A shrewd businessman as well as a gifted artist, Peale negotiated an exclusive deal with the Founding Fathers following the Boston Massacre in 1770. The deal gave him unlimited access to the some of the most prominent men in the Colonies, and he used that access to capture many of them in revealing, and at times, unflattering acts. Historian David McCullough said the portrait of Benjamin Franklin is “an accurate depiction of the emotional, tension-filled debates between proponents of the Federal system and those who adhered to a Jeffersonian vision for the young republic.” McCullough added that it wasn’t uncommon for delegates at the Constitutional Convention to slap, punch, or kick each other to drive home their arguments “when rhetoric wasn’t enough.”