Washington Crossing the Delaware
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Most people spend Christmas stuffing their face with ham and basking in all the materialism...but not our toothless hero George Washington, for he had bigger fish to fry.

It was a frigid night on December 25, 1776 and it was time for the Continental Army to kick some ass. Washington loaded up his troops and crossed the Delaware River as the first move in his epic surprise attack on the Hessian soldiers in the Battle of Trenton. Though it was a small battle, it ended up being a huge victory.

When looking at this painting, it is difficult to not be overcome with feelings of patriotism. Which is interesting since a German artist painted it. Leutze created this image as a plea for his own country to embrace liberal democracy, a tenant on which the great US of A was founded. Sadly, German history continued down a different path…ya know...Hitler and all.

Leutze finished his first copy of this painting in 1850, which experienced fire damage shortly after completion when his studio went up in flames. He restored the painting and then gave it to the Art Museum in Bremen, Germany where he assumed it would be safe from fire. And there it peacefully lived until a British air bombing destroyed it in 1942 during WWII. Sort of seems like this painting was cursed! Luckily for us, Leutze made two more copies of Georgie's triumphant moment before he died.

While the other two copies still exist, their history has been almost as turbulent as their original brethren. The copy that lives in the Metropolitan Museum of Art was defaced in 2002 when a former security guard was overcome with patriotism and glued a photo of the September 11 attacks over it. Fortunately, no damages resulted from the incident, except for maybe to that security guard’s career.

This painting has become victim to censorship in our country as well. Multiple grade schools have altered textbook reproductions of the painting because Washington’s watch fob was painted too close to his crotch (thus representing genitalia) for our prudent educators comfort.

Haters gonna hate. It is inevitable that people will always find faults in something famous. One major inaccuracy that naysayers have pointed out about this piece is that the flag depicted in the painting is of our lovely Stars and Stripes...that we know did not exist at the time of Washington’s crossing.

For such a patriotic and historic painting why has so much buffoonery befallen it? I guess that’s just America for ya. 

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Washington Crossing the Delaware (1851 painting)

Washington Crossing the Delaware is an 1851 oil-on-canvas painting by the German-American artist Emanuel Leutze.

It commemorates General George Washington's crossing of the Delaware River with the Continental Army on the night of December 25–26, 1776, during the American Revolutionary War. That action was the first move in a surprise attack and victory against Hessian forces at the Battle of Trenton in New Jersey on the morning of December 26.

The original was part of the collection at the Kunsthalle in Bremen, Germany, and was destroyed in a bombing raid in 1942, during World War II. Leutze painted two more versions, one of which is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The other was in the West Wing reception area of the White House in Washington, D.C., but in March 2015, was put on display at the Minnesota Marine Art Museum in Winona, Minnesota.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Washington Crossing the Delaware (1851 painting).

Comments (1)


One of my high school history teacher's favorite things to do was to watch movies based on historical events or look at historical paintings and try to find the inaccuracies. Then he'd come to class and show us clips from the movies or show us the paintings and explain the inaccuracies to us. I'm sure most of my classmates thought it was boring but I was always fascinated by them. One of the ones a remember the most was Washington Crossing the Delaware. The painting was made a significant amount of time after the actual event. The flag in the painting wasn't created until about a year after, the boats the soldiers actually used are different than the ones depicted in the painting, and lastly, my favorite one, if Washington had actually been standing, the boat would have capsized.