Our latest pocket square focus features an iconic American painting by the artist Emanuel Leutze, the Washington Crossing the Delaware. Leutze's portraits are known for their artistic quality and their patriotic romanticism. Washington Crossing the Delaware ranks firmly among the American national iconography, and the pocket square is one of our best-sellers every season.
Did You Know? There are actually three versions of the painting created by Leutze.
The first was created in 1850 but destroyed during World War II in 1942. The second painting, a full-sized replica of the first, was begun in 1850 and placed on exhibition in New York in October 1851. The third version of the painting, a smaller-scale version of the original, hung in the White House receiving room from 1979 to 2014.
HISTORY OF THE PAINTING
The oil-on-canvas painting commemorates General George Washington's crossing of the Delaware River with the Continental Army on the night of December 25–26, 1776, during the American Revolutionary War.
Emanuel Leutze grew up in America, then returned to Germany as an adult, where he conceived the idea for this painting during the Revolutions of 1848. His aim in creating the painting was to encourage Europe's liberal reformers through the example of the American Revolution, and used American tourists and art students as models and assistants.
Leutze finished the first painting in 1850 but just after it was completed, this version was damaged by a fire in his studio. It was subsequently restored, and acquired by the Kunsthalle Bremen. However, on September 5, 1942, during World War II, it was then destroyed in a bombing raid by the Allied forces.
Leutze painted two more versions, one of which is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The other was in the West Wing reception area of the White House in Washington, D.C., but in March 2015, it was purchased and put on display at the Minnesota Marine Art Museum in Winona, Minnesota.
The painting was lent at least twice in its history. First, in early 1950, it was part of an exhibition in Dallas, Texas. Then, at the beginning of 1952, it was exhibited for several years at the United Methodist Church in Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania, not far from the painting scene.
Did You Know? In January 2002, the painting was defaced when a former Metropolitan Museum of Art guard glued a picture of the September 11 attacks. However, no major damage was caused to the painting.
The painting is notable for its artistic composition and use of colours. General Washington is emphasised by an unnaturally bright sky, while his face catches the upcoming sun. The colours consist of mostly dark tones, as expected at dawn, but red highlights are repeated throughout the painting.
The people in the boat represent a cross-section of the American colonies, including a man in a Scottish bonnet and a man of African descent facing backwards next to each other in the front, western riflemen at the bow and stern, two farmers in broad-brimmed hats near the back (one with bandaged head).
According to the 1853 exhibition catalogue, the man standing next to Washington and holding the flag is Lieutenant James Monroe, future President of the United States, and the man leaning over the side is General Nathanael Greene. Also, General Edward Hand is shown seated and holding his hat within the vessel.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze (May 24, 1816 – July 18, 1868) was a German American history painter, and is mainly associated with the Düsseldorf school of painting.
Leutze was born in Schwäbisch Gmünd, Württemberg, Germany, and was brought to the United States as a child in 1825. His parents settled first in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and then relocated to Philadelphia.
Did You Know? The first development of his artistic talent occurred while attending his father's sickbed, where he attempted drawing to occupy the long hours of waiting by his side.
After his father died in 1831, at only 14 years old, Leutze was painting portraits for 5 dollars each. Through the sale of such work, he supported himself after his father's death into adulthood. Then, in 1834, he received his first introduction in art at the classes of John Rubens Smith, a portrait painter in Philadelphia.
By 1840, Leutze had moved back to Europe to study, but he studied for only one year at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf academy due to his anti-academic attitude. Instead, he chose to focus on his work and only a year later sold his first painting, Columbus before the Council of Salamanca (1841) to the Düsseldorf Art Union.
In 1845, after a tour in Italy, he returned to Düsseldorf, marrying Juliane Lottner and making his home there for 14 years. In 1859, Leutze returned to the United States and opened a studio in New York City, where he then divided his time between New York City and Washington, D.C. In 1859, he painted a portrait of Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney, which still hangs in the Harvard Law School today.
Late in life, he became a member of the National Academy of Design. He was also a member of the Union League Club of New York, which still has a number of his paintings. At age 52, he sadly died in Washington, D.C. of heat stroke, and was interred at Glenwood Cemetery.
THREE TAILORED JACKETS TO WEAR WITH THIS POCKET SQUARE
We also offer this historic painting as part of our silk jacket lining collection, creating a bespoke and subtle addition to the inside of your jacket, adding a touch of flair and finesse.
Below we explore three suitable jackets that would complement the use of this painting as either a pocket square or indeed, a silk jacket lining.
Navy Superfine Merino Wool Jacket
Washington Crossing the Delaware pocket square painting has a bright sky backdrop behind the famous figures, creating a sizeable negative space to complement your outfit. We suggest pairing this with our Navy Superfine Merino Wool Jacket, as it’s by far our most versatile colour and jacket of choice. The neutral earthy colours of the painting create the perfect option to use a puff fold for your pocket square.
Brown Superfine Houndstooth Jacket
Our Brown Superfine Houndstooth Jacket is made from the finest 100% wool fabric and features a classic cut that can be dressed up or down. The prominent gold border within the Washington Crossing the Delaware pocket square adds a creative flair that will easily complement any brown based jacket.
Light Grey Sharkskin Weave Linen Jacket
Our new Light Grey Sharkskin Jacket is made from the finest linen and wool blend fabric. The light grey and white linen weave creates the perfect summer jacket for any occasion. The Washington Crossing the Delaware pocket square has a clean white border and lightened sky that will work perfectly with this light grey jacket across the warmer months.