"Washington crossing the Delaware" is the most often reproduced painting in America (A.H. Hutton: "Portrait of Patriotism"). The artist, Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze, was born in Schwaebisch-Gmuend on May 24, 1816, grew up in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and created the painting in 1851, in Duesseldorf where he had gone to study. His parents had emigrated to America in 1825 for religious reasons, The father, a silversmith who had owned his factory, managed in America only with difficulty and died in 1831.
Emanuel's portraits attracted attention even as a ten-year-old, and his painting, "Indians Looking at the Setting Sun," enabled him to go abroad and study at the Art Academy in Duesseldorf, where he met the painter Albert Bierstadt , who also was originally from Germany and had grown up in America. They became friends and shared a wish "of paying dramatic tribute to their new homeland on canvas"
"The First Landing of the Normans in America" brought Leutze fame in Germany that extended to America. Painting upon painting followed, often with life-size figures, such as "The Settlement of Maryland" and "Columbus' Festive Reception upon the First Return from America". Luetze became famous as the painter of two worlds exemplified by "Washington in Monmouth" and "Crown Prince Friedrich II's Return from Spandau." The first version of "Washington's Crossing" which was restored after suffering damage in a gallery fire, is the property of the Kunsthalle in Breman; the second version hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of New York.
In 1859, Leutze returned to America, crowned with gold metals from both continents and bearing the title of professor conferred by the King of Prussia. He was commissioned to decorate the House of Representatives in Washington. For this purpose, he undertook long, difficult journeys into unexplored areas and into Indian Territory, which resulted in "Westward The Course of Empire Takes its Way," wherein Leutze combined realistic Western landscapes with an allegorical portrayal of settlements on the boarder of civilization. Leutze died suddenly in Washington on July 18, 1868, while at work on "Abolition of Slavery," another painting intended for the Capitol.
"Leutze introduced into America the sentimental realism of German historical painting." says the Oxford Companion to Art. "He thereby attained extraordinary popularity in America for many decades....."
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