Emanuel Leutze

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Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze (May 24, 1816, Schwäbisch Gmünd – July 18, 1868) was a German American history painter best-known for his painting Washington Crossing the Delaware.




Leutze was born in Schwäbisch Gmünd, Württemberg (Germany), and was brought to America as a child. His parents settled first in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, then at Fredericksburg, Va. His early education was good, though not especially in the direction of art. The first development of his artistic talent occurred while he was attending the sickbed of his father, when he attempted drawing to occupy the long hours of waiting.[1] His father died in 1831.[2] At 14, he was painting portraits for $5 apiece. Through such work, he supported himself after the death of his father.[3] In 1834, he received his first instruction in art in classes of John Rubens Smith,[4] a portrait painter in Philadelphia. He soon became skilled, and promoted a plan for publishing, in Washington, portraits of eminent American statesmen; however, he met with but slight encouragement.[1]


In 1840, one of his paintings attracted attention and procured him several orders, which enabled him to go to Düsseldorf, where he studied with Lessing. In 1842 he went to Munich, studying the works of Cornelius and Kaulbach, and, while there, finished his Columbus before the Queen. The following year he visited Venice and Rome, making studies from Titian and Michaelangelo. His first work, Columbus before the Council of Salamanca was purchased by the Düsseldorf Art Union. A companion picture, Columbus in Chains, procured him the gold medal of the Brussels Art Exhibition, and was subsequently purchased by the Art Union in New York. In 1845, after a tour in Italy, he returned to Düsseldorf, marrying Juliane Lottner[2] and making his home there for 14 years.[1]

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