Washington's Perilous Voyage

George Washington Crossing The Delaware (1851)

Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze
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Artist Bio by Gabe Voelker

The painter, Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze, was born in Germany but came with his family to live in Virginia when he was young. His first artistic skills surfaced when we made sketches at his fathers death bed. As a teenager he made money making portraits of people on the street. His skills improved to a point where he made portraits for statesmen.

Leutze's works eventually caught the eye of a prestigious art school in Germany where he received a more formal art education. Following his finishing of the school he went to Venice to further his studies of famous painters.

He became a very successful painter in the following years but wanted to encourage Europe's liberal reforms so he began painting scenes of the American revolution to encourage said reforms and in that time he painted Washington Crossing the Delaware.

His American paintings encouraged his return to America where he painted until he died of heatstroke.

Art Critique by Pierre-Louis Delbarre

In George Washington Crossing the Delaware, the colors are dark shades of green and blue except for the red in the men's clothes, which represents the men's passion. There is light in the West and dark clouds in the East, the lighter, Western side represents hope. Everything in the painting is in motion, the boat, water, flag, and the soldiers, except for George Washington. He seems to be in deep thought and is the focal point of the painting. A soldier is holding up the flag, which is worn and faded (representing the harshness of the war on the morale of the American army), and inspires patriotism.

Story Truth by Sana Hameed

The British believed that the continental army had been defeated but little did they know that the army leader George Washington had other tricks up their sleeve. Washington felt that they, the Continental Army, had to cross the Delaware River and attack the British in the town of Trenton to emerge victorious. Washington led his men at the forefront of their small but sturdy boat, the flag riddled with stars and stripes of unity and patriotism, waving relentlessly in the wind behind him. Ice surrounded them in chunks due to the winter's frost but the sun rose before Washington, casting upon him a warm and rich glow, as if God Himself was blessing their journey and giving them hope to end the tyranny of the British. Washington was a hero in the very essence of the word.

Happening Truth by Shivani Kottur

On the night of December 25th, 1776, George Washington (general of the Patriots) decided to cross the Delaware river to reach Trenton, New Jersey and attack the Hessian troops stationed there by the British. The extremely precarious conditions of crossing the river included harsh rain, large sheets of ice on the river, and almost no light since the crossing was at night. Washington's army, composed of 2400 men, eventually crossed the river despite all the hazards. There are some fallacies in the painting that wouldn't have occurred in real life-- Washington wouldn't have stood up on the boat and would not have carried the stripes and Stripes flag portrayed in Leutze's painting because it could not have been created yet.

War Story by Whole Group

I knew. I knew we had to cross the icy Delaware in the midst of winter and set our sights on Trenton in order to attack the British. The cold numbed our bones. I told my men, " For God's sake, keep by your officers!" in a solemn voice. As we got ready to cross the river, one of my men fell deathly ill since to get to the river, my soldiers had to cross the snow barefoot for they had no shoes. I had no other choice but to abandon him since the success of the war depends on every single battle. The torrents of rain lashed out on our skin, the ice culminated on the sterns of our boats and forced them down stream. Some soldiers stamped their feet and encouraged our prisoners to do the same to shake off the ice. It seemed as if our boats would capsize at any moment. In addition, there was no light. We could see nothing more than the soldier before us, Suddenly I swear that I saw a sign from God urging us to press on when all hope seemed to be lost.