Washington Crosses the Delaware by Emanuel Leutze

Washington Crosses the Delaware by Emanuel Leutze
Washington Crosses the Delaware by Emanuel Leutze

Emanuel Leutze (1816 -1868), although born in Germany, came to United Statesas a child and there he developed a long career as a painter of historical paintings, although none of these paintings reached the heights of popularity and quality of this 1851 work that represents Washington crossing the Delaware . A canvas of colossal dimensions (378 x 647 cm.) that is one of the most beloved works of the Metropolitan Museum in New York.


Washington crosses the Delaware by Emanuel Leutze

Actually, Leutze is known to have made two versions of this same image. The one we see here and an earlier one from 1849. Curiously, he painted this subject during one of his stays in Germany. Although it is true that at that time the issue of independence was something very hot among the Germans and that is why this painting was also very popular there, in which the painter shows us with many historical licenses, a very renowned event that George Washington starred in, one of the great heroes of the American War of Independence.

In fact, one of the purposes of Leutze was to encourage the German liberals who had failed resoundingly in their revolutionary uprising of 1848, which is part of the long process of German Unification that lasted several decades of the 19th century.

The episodechosen for the painting was most encouraging and symbolic, since Washington decided to cross the Delaware River at a time when the fight for independence of the 13 American colonies was clearly in favor of British troops. However, that risky move by the general was going to be decisive in changing the course of the war. So it was quite an example that Leutze wanted to show his compatriots

Hence it shows usGeorge Washingtonstanding with all his pride and gallantry at the head of the boat. In a pose that can only be defined with one word: heroic, advancing and fighting against everything that comes his way. And there is another character that also attracts attention. It is his lieutenant raising the American flag. That character is none other than James Monroe, who also eventually became one of the first presidents of the country.

While accompanying these figures is part of his people, all rowing together in this boat. A representation of the heroism of the common people who face a frozen river and whatever it takes to achieve their freedom. A fact in which everyone participates, since several men who are city people or pioneers can be seen on the boat, but there is also a black character, and even a woman. In short, this is a painting with a message and a style very typical of the moment in which it was painted: the Romanticismo.

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