Benjamin Franklin’s Kite Experiment (Charles Mills, c. 1900-1920)

In Mills’s depiction, 150 years on in the age of electricity, Franklin and an adult son are sheltered indoors, the kite far distant, the lightning not yet captured. The framing and composition create an aura of classical statuary, the figures purposeful and unalarmed—a contrast to the gothic apprehensions of Franklin’s boy in Sadd’s illustration of 1840.

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