This painting by German-American artist Emanuel Leutze commemorates General George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware River with the Continental Army on December 25–26, 1776, during the American Revolutionary War. That action was the first move in a surprise attack and victory against Hessian forces at the Battle of Trenton in New Jersey on 26 December.
The flag depicted is an early version of the flag of the United States (the “Stars and Stripes”), the design of which did not exist at the time of Washington’s crossing. The flag’s design was first specified on the 14 June 1777, Flag Resolution of the Second Continental Congress. It flew for the first time on 3 September 1777, well after Washington’s crossing in 1776.
The original was part of the collection at the Kunsthalle in Bremen, Germany, and was destroyed in a bombing raid in 1942 during World War II. Leutze painted two more versions, with the smaller version of the two, which was auctioned this year and sold for $43 million.