'Washington' crosses the Mississippi, arrives in Winona

'Washington Crossing the Delaware'
Emanuel Leutze's "Washington Crossing the Delaware." Oil on Canvas, 1851, Private Collection.
Courtesy of Minnesota Marine Art Museum

An iconic American painting has made its way from the walls of the White House to Winona, Minnesota.

The famed "Washington Crossing the Delaware" by German-American artist Emanuel Leutze now hangs on the walls of the Minnesota Marine Art Museum.

"I can't even describe the excitement to bring something that substantial to our audience here in Winona," said MMAM Executive Director Andrew Maus. "We've unveiled a lot of really great things, but this takes the cake."

The painting is the smaller of two versions that exist. The larger painting, which is 20 feet wide, is the centerpiece of the American collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The smaller version, at five feet wide, has hung for the last several decades in the West Wing of the White House before being purchased by Winona collectors Mary Burrichter and Bob Kierlin on behalf of the MMAM.

"They're virtually identical," said Maus. "It's great for us because aesthetically it's an amazing painting. But it's also rich with content. And it connects to school curricula too; at this time of year we have thousands of kids coming through the museum."

Emanuel Leutz painted two versions of "Washington Crossing the Delaware" in 1851 in Germany. A third version was destroyed in World War II.

"One of the intentions of the artist was to inspire German revolution," said Maus. "It really represents this nation of immigrants that built this country."

The Minnesota Marine Art Museum, located on the bank of the Mississippi, specializes in art that features water. Maus says "Washington Crossing the Delaware" fits the bill perfectly.

For many years the painting was wrongly attributed to Eastman Johnson, but within the last six months it was corrected to be the work of Emanuel Leutze.

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