The essay analyzes George Washington Crossing the Delaware painting. Whether we realize it or not, many of our nation’s great paintings actually depict a tremendous amount of our history and culture. Knowing the history behind a piece of work helps to illuminate those elements of a painting…
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The essay "Painting - George Washington Crossing the Delaware" focuses on the George Washington Crossing the Delaware, painted in 1851 by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze. The obvious mismatch in dates between the creation of the painting and the actual crossing of the Delaware suggest that this was an event that was painted well after the fact – in fact, well after many of the recognizable men in the boat had been placed in their graves. Understanding a little about the history of the painting itself, along with the artist who painted it, helps to unravel some of the historical elements of the painting, both accurate and inaccurate. Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze was a German-born painter who spent much of his life hopping back and forth across the Atlantic. He was born in Wurttemberg, Germany in the spring of 1816 and was brought to America as a small boy. It is known that he was in America in 1825 but that by 1841 he was on his way back to Germany again to take a course in art at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts (Bowman, 1995). From his earliest works, one can begin to see his fascination with historical subjects as his first work, purchased by the Dusseldorf Art Union, was entitled Columbus before the Council of Salamanca. According to John Bowman’s (1995) essay on the painter, Leutze determined to paint the image of one of the more decisive moments of the Revolutionary War as a means of supporting the various revolutionary movements that were then taking place in Europe at the time of the painting.
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