We offer 5 star quality artwork from professional artists at affordable prices. Each order is made just for you.
Fast Worldwide Shipping
Over 100,000 Paintings Sold
Secure Online Ordering
All Major Credit Cards Accepted
24 Hour Customer Service
Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze [German-born American Romantic Painter, 1816-1868]
Emanuel Leutze was born in the German city-state of Wurttemberg on May 24, 1816. His life began during a turbulent time in German history. Inspired by the American and French Revolutions, the early to mid 1800s saw much political unrest in Europe.
Gottlieb Leutze, Emanuel's father, was an artisan who was part of a group of revolutionaries in Wurttemburg actively striving toward the overthrow of the monarchy. After, it is assumed, Gottlieb put himself into political turmoil in his home town, he and his family escaped to Philadelphia in 1825. In Philadelphia, Gottlieb hoped to find his desired ideals of freedom emulated. Emanuel was raised on the democratic concepts for which Gottlieb fought.
In 1831, Gottlieb died. At this time, Emanuel was said to have begun portrait painting to help support his family. By 1837, Emanuel was working as an itinerant artist and received encouragement and support from his American patrons to go to Europe to study art. In the beginning of the 1840s Leutze followed this advice and enrolled in the Royal Düsseldorf Academy. Düsseldorf, though hardly a place of cutting-edge art likened to Paris or Rome, was well known for purism and respected for historical paintings and portraiture. The Düsseldorf Academy had a large American following as well as a notable place in traditional European art. It was there that Leutze's political upbringing fused with his art. It was at the Academy that Leutze became familiar with a work entitled, Hussite Preaching by a well known German artist named Lessing. The painting showed the past event of Reformer John Huss striving to bring the Counter-Reformation to Catholic Germanic culture. However, though this subject matter occurred centuries before the 1800s, Lessing used the symbolism of this past event to make a statement on the current events of Düsseldorf where the struggle for independence from the monarchy and the church was still alive.
Leutze became heavily involved within the political and artistic arenas. He saw the German provinces of his day continue to rally in the same causes with which his father had identified in Emanuel's youth and compared the German struggle with the struggle for American independence. He left the Academy to form an independent art group which separated him from the Academy's ties to the Royal government. He left his studies of portraiture and began to use historic events in modern landscapes to portray his inner political convictions. Among his early attempts, he used a series of paintings on Columbus and Elizabethan subjects such as Oliver Cromwell to feed the Germanic region's fire for reform. His goal, as with Lessing, was not accuracy nor historical teaching but rather the message in his medium.
The political climate fueled by many philosophers and artists continued to intensify in the Germanic regions in 1848. The need for change was inspired further with writings by Marx and Engle. A group of political reformers known as the Forty-eighters made great attempts through rallies, artwork, writings and even small skirmishes to bring about political change. However, the attempts were thwarted and left many in despair.
It was during the failure of the Forty-eighters, when hope had been lost, that Leutze began to paint Washington Crossing the Delaware. He began the work in 1849 and was nearly finished when fire partially destroyed his Düsseldorf studio including parts of the painting. He repaired the painting immediately. Upon its completion, it was displayed throughout the German provinces. (This first version was completely destroyed during the bombing raids of World War II.) After the repair, Leutze executed a copy of the same painting. This one was sent to America and displayed in New York and Washington D. C. (This version is currently housed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.) It received instant fame. The American audience loved it for it met the current trends of romantic historic images.
After seeing his dream of independence die in Düsseldorf and after having been denounced as a rebel like his father, Leutze returned to America around 1859. After the fame of Washington Crossing the Delaware, Leutze won a commission to paint a mural for the US Capitol. His mural entitled, Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way, was completed in 1860. It was his last major recognized work. He died of a supposed stroke on July 18, 1868 in Washington D. C.