Think of George Washington crossing the Delaware River on Christmas night, and chances are you think of the many artists' interpretations of the historic event. One in particular, the well-known 1851 painting by Emanuel Leutze, depicted Washington standing up in a rowboat, but historians say it's time to set the story, and the image, straight.
Tomorrow, a new painting will debut at the New York Historical Society museum in Manhattan, which shows Washington aboard a flat-bottomed ferry big enough to carry cannons and horses. The new painting shows Washington holding onto a cannon, bracing himself against a fierce snowstorm.
The artist, Mort Kunstler, said he researched historical and even weather records to help him craft the new portrayal. Kunstler said documents indicated a storm had swept in that night in 1776, brininging freezing rain, hail and snow.
History confirms that Washington and his troops crossed the Delaware from Pennsylvania to New Jersey and mounted a surprise attack at the Battle of Trenton on Dec. 26, 1776.
On Monday, Jan. 16, the new painting by Kunstler will be the subject of much comparison to Luetze's painting. That's the day the Leutze artwork will go back on public display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, also in Manhattan.