'Washington Crossing the Delaware' up for auction

April 22, 2022 / 10:07 PM
Sharjah24 – Reuters: The iconic "Washington Crossing the Delaware" painting, which hung in the White House from the 1970s to 2014, is coming up for auction and estimated to fetch about $20 million.
The oil painting is one of three versions by Emanuel Leutze, only two survive.

"The first was damaged in a studio fire when he was still working on it," said American Art specialist Paige Kestenman at Christie's New York. After restoration, it went on display at the Kunsthalle Bremen museum in Germany, but was destroyed during a World War Two air raid.

"The second is the monumental work that is the centerpiece of the Metropolitan Museum's American Wing, and the third is this work right here," said Kestenman.

The version at the Met measures 12.4 ft x 21.25 ft (3.78 m x 6.48 m). The painting up for sale on May 12, also painted in 1851, is only about 3 ft (0.9 m) high and 6 ft (1.83 m) wide. It had hung for decades in the White House, mainly in the West Wing reception room.

"The work depicts George Washington leading soldiers across the Delaware River to surprise the infantry hiding on the other side on Christmas Night, 1776, Kestenman said.

"A German-born American immigrant, Leutze was also a staunch abolitionist and in 'Washington crossing the Delaware' he deliberately included a variety of the figures that make up the melting pot that formed the American nation," said Kestenman.

She pointed out a Black soldier, another soldier wearing a Scottish bonnet, and moccasins and buckskin clothing suggesting the American West and Native Americans.
April 22, 2022 / 10:07 PM

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