Emanuel Leutze (July 2021)

black and white photo of artist Emanuel Leutz
Photo of Emanuel Leutz courtesy William Kurtz [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
God Bless America!

During the month when America celebrates its independence and history, it seemed only appropriate to focus on an artist know for his patriotic paintings.

Emanuel Leutze was born in  Württemberg, Germany, in 1816 and moved to the United States as a child.  Leutze’s portraits are known for their patriotic emotionalism. Washington Crossing the Delaware firmly ranks among the American national iconography.

Painting of George Washington crossing the Delaware shows Washington standing in crowded rowboat with others rowing and uniformed man clutching the American flag
Washington Crossing the Delaware by Emanuel Leutze [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
When he was nine years old, Leutze’s family settled in Virginia, then later moved to Philadelphia.  He first started drawing while attending to his father on his sickbed. At fourteen, Leutze supported himself by painting portraits upon the death of his father.

In 1860, the U.S. Congress commissioned Leutze to decorate a stairway in the Capitol Building in Washington, DC.  He painted a large composition, Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way.  The painting depicts the westward expansion across our nation to the Pacific Ocean.

Painting by the artist Emanual Leutz depicting western expansion of the US with wagon trains, horses and settlers
Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way by Emanuel Leutze [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
At the time of his death, in 1868, he was working on a painting, The Emancipation of the Slaves.  This talented artist died at the age of 52 in Washington DC of heat stroke.


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