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Prince Whipple and American Painting

Washington Crossing the Delaware

Currier and Ives Crossing Delaware

"Washington Crossing the Delaware"
By Currier & Ives

As with many American historical paintings, Americans usually saw, not the original, but an engraving or print. Most prominent were the often mangled copies by Currier and Ives. Both the Sully and Leutze paintings of Washington at the Delaware were sharply adapted by these popular printers in the late 19th century. Sully's Washington is completely turned around, his equestrian drama lost and his face aged 20 years to represent the familiar dollar-bill-George. In the cartoonish Currier & Ives representation of Leutze's classic boat scene, the river is now choked with iceberg-sized chunks and the crew has been greatly diminished. Not surprisingly, in both prints, the solitary black figure has been excised -- much as he and his race were carefully eliminated from the history or Revolutionary America until recently.

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Sunday, February 18, 2018 
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