Washington Crossing the Delaware First Edition
First Edition Engraving by Girardet, after Leutze
This a finely executed engraving after the important early painting, Washington Crossing the Delaware, an oil-on-canvas by the German American artist Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze, painted in 1850. This print was engraved by Paul Girardet, printed and published by Goupil & Co., 1853.
Leutze's painting commemorates General George Washington's crossing of the Delaware River on the night of December 25–26, 1776, during the American Revolutionary War. That action was the first move in a surprise attack against the Hessian forces at Trenton, New Jersey, in the Battle of Trenton. As the end of 1776 came to a close, the American army was exhausted, depleted, and demoralized. Revolutionary forces had been run out of both New York and New Jersey by the British. Knowing that the majority of the militia’s period of service was about to expire on the 31st of December, it was imperative that Washington craft a strategic, offensive next move. In a bold decision, Washington and his men took to their boats in the middle of the night on December 25th. They crossed at McKonkey’s Ferry, PA, in fierce weather and a swollen Delaware River. At dawn thenext morning, they took the inactive camp of the Hessians by surprise at Trenton. Two subsequent battle wins, one at Trenton on January 2nd and the other at Princeton on January 3rd, gave the American cause and morale the boost it needed.
Leutze’s painting of the crossing, and the engravings published by Goupil, have become one of the most iconographic images of American Revolutionary history. Leutze’s magnificent painting of Washington Crossing the Delaware was sold to Mssrs. Goupil in 1851 for seven thousand dollars, almost as soon as he began painting it. In September 1851 the finished oil was brought to New York and exhibited at the Stuyvesant Institute and Goupil began accepting subscriptions at a reduced price for an engraved version, intended to be the largest line engraving ever printed.
According to a prospectus issued by Goupil in the Volume 12 of “The Literary World”, the print would be available in four versions: print impressions on plain paper; print impressions on India paper; and proofs before letters on plain or India paper; coloring was also offered as an option quoted in the prospectus. This 1853 impression is hand colored beautifully, enhancing the visual drama of this historical print.
The image size measures 22 3/8 x 38 5/16 inches. It is in very good condition with full margins intact. It is a bright and strong impression. The engraving has been impeccably framed in conservation appropriate materials, with a deep green linen top mat and hand-built custom wooden frame. Framed dimensions: 39" H x 53" W x 1 3/4" D.