Washington Crossing the Delaware Restoring an American Masterpiece Carrie Rebora Barratt, Lance Mayer, Gay Myers, Eli Wilner, Suzanne Smeaton

Publication date:
27 Dec 2011
Metropolitan Museum of Art
48 pages: 279 x 216mm
55 color + 10 b/w illus.

Emanuel Leutze's life-size Washington Crossing the Delaware commemorates the critical moment in the American Revolution when George Washington led a surprise attack against troops supporting the British forces in Trenton, New Jersey. When Leutze created the painting in 1850, ten years after he had returned from America to his native Germany, he was hoping to rally support for the revolutionary movements then sweeping Europe. Leutze sent the work to New York in 1851, and within four months more than fifty thousand people had paid to see it.

Today, this painting is an icon of American visual culture and is one of the most beloved objects in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 2007, 110 years after its acquisition, Leutze's masterpiece became the focus of the most ambitious conservation and reframing project in the museum's history. This fascinating book is a behind-the-scenes account of the painting's acquisition and display at the museum, as well as of the recent project to restore and reframe it. The work's unveiling coincides with the opening of the new American Wing galleries in January 2012.

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Read an article about Washington Crossing the Delaware on Yale's blog

Carrie Rebora Barratt is associate director for collections and administration at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Lance Mayer and Gay Myers, of the New London, Connecticut, art conservation firm Mayer & Myers, undertook the treatment of the painting. Suzanne Smeaton and Eli Wilner oversaw the design and carving of its new frame at Eli Wilner & Company, New York.

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Related links

Visit the web page for the New American Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.