The Princess and the Patriot was made possible in part by the generous support of the William Penn Foundation, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, the Heritage Philadelphia Program funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Pennsylvania Humanities Council, the Richard S. Lounsbery Foundation, the Patchwork Charitable Foundation in memory of R. Stewart Rauch and Frances B. Rauch, the Trust for Mutual Understanding, the Arcadia Foundation, the Florence R. C. Murray Charitable Trust, and the Omni Hotel at Independence Park.
The Princess and the Patriot: Ekaterina Dashkova, Benjamin Franklin, and the Age of Enlightenment
They seemed to have nothing in common. She was the Russian princess Ekaterina Romanovna Dashkova, a noblewoman and friend of Empress Catherine the Great. He was the American printer, scientist, patriot and statesman Benjamin Franklin. When they met in Paris in 1781, it was a meeting of two of the most fascinating minds of the Age of Enlightenment.
Although Franklin is the more familiar of the two, both left indelible marks on their native lands. Franklin invited Dashkova to become the first woman member of the American Philosophical Society. As its director, Dashkova made Franklin the first American member of the Imperial Academy of Sciences and Arts in St. Petersburg. They both exemplified the ideals of the Enlightenment that flourished in Europe and America and still shape our world today.
Portraits, memoirs, letters, maps, court attire, jewelry and other decorative arts—many items never seen before in this country—were on view. They documented the extraordinary lives of America’s favorite founding father and the outrageous Russian princess who spoke five languages, helped overthrow a czar and directed the most prestigious scientific organization in her country.
The Princess & the Patriot was part of the Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary, an international celebration of the 300th anniversary of Franklin’s birth.