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Rare engraved image of Benjamin Franklin appearing before the Privy Council in London, in 1774.

The image shows Benjamin Franklin's appearance before the Privy Council at the Cockpit in Whitehall on January 29, 1774.

In June of 1773, the House of Representatives in Massachusetts petitioned the crown for the removal from office of Governor Hutchinson. Benjamin Franklin, as their agent, presented the demand in London. This was in response to letters written by Hutchinson, intercepted by Franklin and sent to Boston, in which Hutchinson stated that England must do something to prevent the state from separating from Britain.  

At the time, Franklin was also the British deputy postmaster general in North America and a spokesman for the Massachusetts House of Representatives. His appearance came on the heals of word of the Boston Tea Party in London and a strong anti-American Sentiment.  Every member of the Privy Council attended along with Lord North and General Gage, along with many spectators. Franklin's presentation was made by two lawyers who strongly urged the removal of Hutchinson. The proposal was rejected and Franklin was derided and stripped of his position as deputy postmaster general. Franklin remained in London for another fourteen months to advocate peacefully on behalf of the colonies.  

The image was engraved by Robert Whitechurch, from an original painting by Alsace born artist, Christian Schuessele, and published by Thomas Kelly in New York and copyrighted by John M. Butler.  

Christian Schussele Biography

Christian Schuessele was an artist, painting genre subjects, landscapes, and portraits as well as historical scenes.  Schuessele also worked as a lithographer and taught drawing and painting.

Schuessele studied in Paris, before moving to Philadelphia in about 1848.  Schussele initially supported himself as a lithographer. He achieved recognition when his historical work Clear the Track (1854) was engraved by John Sartain (1808-1897), after which Schussele was able to concentrate exclusively on painting.

Schuessele exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where he was a professor from 1868 to 1879. Thomas Eakins (1844-1916) was one of his students. He also exhibited at the Great Central Fair in Philadelphia in 1864, at the Boston Athenaeum in 1858 and 1868, and at the Brooklyn Art Association in 1872.