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George Washington crossing the Delaware River by Sully

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Engraving of George Washington crossing the Delaware River

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Though less familiar than the later work of the same title by Emmanuel Gottlieb Leutze, Thomas Sully's depiction of Washington Crossing the Delaware helped to establish the event among American historical legends.

Like most large-scale works of the period, Sully's painting was commissioned, in this instance by the state of South Carolina. Sully was one of the leading portrait painters of the early 19th century, having achieved some recognition while still in his twenties. He painted some of the most famous American statesmen and heroes of his day, as well as prominent Europeans, and his commissioned services were in high demand.

Painted 43 years after the actual event and 20 years after Washington's death, the picture shows Washington and four other men astride horses, while in the background his troops cross the river in boats.

One of the mounted men attending Washington is black. He is believed to be Prince Whipple, an enslaved African who was emancipated during the war, and "body-guard to Gen. Whipple, of New Hampshire, who was Aid to General Washington."

Image Credit: Culver Pictures

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Related Entries:
George Washington crossing the Delaware River by Leutze
The Marriage of Washington to Martha Custis
The Washington Family

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