Christie’s to Sell ‘Washington Crossing the Delaware’ for $15 Million

The only illustration of
Emanuel Leutze’s
1851 painting of Washington Crossing the Delaware in private fingers will be offered by Christie’s at its 20th-century night sale in May perhaps in New York. 

The 3.3 foot by 5.7 foot portray is returning to the auction block for the initial time since 1973 for an estimate amongst $15 million and $20 million. Which is considerably earlier mentioned the US$260,000 it acquired in that many years-ago sale, which was a history at the time for an American painting. 

This effective, instantly recognizable image is smaller sized, but almost similar to the 21-foot-wide operate of art of the very same identify and by the very same artist at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. 

“It’s an image that has redefined how the general public imagines American background,” states
Paige Kestenman,
a specialist in Christie’s American art department. “The idea significantly transcended the painting alone to come to be an icon of the 20th century as nicely.” 

This variation of Washington Crossing the Delaware experienced hung in the White Household for 35 several years till 2014, showing many situations in the reception space to the West Wing. It experienced been on mortgage from an anonymous collector prior to it was bought privately to
Mary Burrichter
and her husband,
Bob Kierlin,
founders of the Minnesota Maritime Artwork Museum. The pair subsequently loaned the do the job to the museum with the intention of it becoming component of the long lasting collection, in accordance to a March 2015 post in the Star Tribune of Minneapolis.

In a assertion Friday, the museum stated “the portray was not intended to be permanently included to the MMAM’s collection, regardless of it becoming claimed or else in a 2015 post that was revealed in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.”

Before, a spokeswoman at MMAM claimed the initial personal loan was finite and ended in March 2022, and was “part of our quite a few rotating exhibitions of terrific artwork impressed by h2o.” She ongoing in an e-mail, “The owner of this work has not shared with us their factors to market.”

Who specifically is promoting the portray is not obvious. In an emailed assertion, a Christie’s spokesperson explained: “Per arrangement with the consignor, this work is staying bought as ‘Property from a Outstanding Personal Selection.’”

The photo is anticipated to deliver lots of interest as “arguably the most vital pre-war American portray,” when it comes at auction on the night of Might 12, in accordance to Kestenman. It does not carry a warranty from Christie’s or from a third get together. 

A single cause for the painting’s allure is that everybody understands it. The operate was commissioned specifically by the artwork sellers Goupil, Vibert & Co. at the time to be modest more than enough to be reproduced as an engraving, top to the popular circulation of the picture in the mid-1800s. Washington Crossing the Delaware has considering the fact that appeared on U.S. postage stamps, the again of the New Jersey Point out quarter, and in a great number of textbooks. 

It also inspired copies, including
Robert Colescott’s
1975 painting George Washington Carver Crossing the Delaware: Webpage from an American Background Textbook, which the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art purchased at a Sotheby’s auction for US$15.3 million in Could 2012. In November, New Yorker cartoonist 
Barry Blitt
applied the picture as inspiration for a include on a divided America. 

Initially, Leutze, who experienced lived in The usa and later on returned to the nation, created the painting with his studio assistants, just one of whom,
Eastman Johnson,
was erroneously once thought to be the sole artist of the more compact work. This very first painting had been weakened in a fireplace in Leutze’s studio the artist thought it was wrecked and submitted for insurance coverage, but he later restored it and it was bought to the Kunsthalle Bremen in Germany. It was then ruined for the duration of an air raid in World War II. 

The 2nd version hangs in the American Wing of the Achieved in New York, even though the 3rd, which was painted along with the 2nd, was offered privately. The two are just about the very same in composition besides for a few specifics. In the version at the Met, for occasion, Washington carries a check out fob, although in the scaled-down version he does not, Kestenman states. 

The central impression of Washington standing among his men on a boat as they traveled through icy, choppy waters to battle German troopers fighting for the British at Trenton, New Jersey on Dec. 25, 1776, became so preferred for the reason that it showed Washington in the “middle of the motion, on the boat, among his soldiers,” she says. 

And it showed these soldiers as a “melting pot of cultures that [had] occur collectively to kind the country,” Kestenman provides. One soldier is Black, an additional is donning Indigenous American apparel, while many others are donning outfits reminiscent of farmers in the heartland. 

At the time the get the job done was established, revolutions were being raging throughout Europe, including Germany, and Leutze desired to supply inspiration to the revolutionaries with a perform symbolizing the important moment in the Revolutionary War that turned to America’s favor, Kestenman states.

In its statement about the painting, MMAM additional that the museum is “committed to collaborating with academic corporations, general public museums, and non-public collectors to current new narratives on maritime art and exhibit similarly bold artworks in its galleries, such as Jacob Lawrence’s unconventional retelling of the legendary tale of George Washington crossing the Delaware River.”

This story was current to include things like responses from the Minnesota Marine Art Museum.