You have probably heard the legend about George Washington leading troops across the Delaware River during the frigid winter. Because of Washington’s leadership and determination, he was able to successfully win a battle that proved to be important for the Revolutionary War. Washington’s victorious moment was immortalized in one of three paintings created by the master artist Emanuel Leutze, who set the iconic image on canvas with oil pants back in 1851.
Now, however, the White House will be auctioning off one of the Washington paintings. The painting that will be going to auction hung in the White House from the 1970s until 2014, when it was removed. When the painting makes its way to the auction block, experts expect it to go for as much as twenty million dollars.
Of the three paintings that Leutze made of Washington crossing the Delaware River, only two survive. This is one of the two surviving paintings. Because it is practically one of a kind and is something that most Americans have seen before, it will make for a wonderful addition to a museum or gallery.
The first painting of Washington crossing the Delaware River was destroyed during World War II when an air raid bombed Germany, according to an insight provided by American Art specialist Paige Kestenman at Christie’s New York.
The second version of the painting is currently on exhibit at the largest art museum in America – New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. It measures a whopping 12.4 feet by 21.25 feet.
“The second is the monumental work that is the centerpiece of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s American Wing, and the third is this work right here,” said Kestenman.
Although the painting that used to be in the White House is smaller than the one displayed at the Met – measuring about three feet by six feet – it is still worth a whole lot of money. When this piece goes to auction, someone will be the verifiable owner of the picture of Washington leading American troops across the Delaware River on Christmas Night in 1776.
Meanwhile, the painter, Leutze, who was born in Germany but moved to the United States, wanted to celebrate Washington’s victory during the Revolutionary War.
“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.
As you can see, there is a lot more to this painting than just Washington crossing the Delaware River. It is a symbol of America’s strength and resilience – two traits that have always been important to our country. So, if you happen to be in the market for a historical painting, keep your eye out for this one – it is sure to be a real gem. Who knows, maybe you will be the one who ends up owning it!
Every time you share an AWM story, you help build a home for a disabled veteran.