December 25th, 1776 is a deeply meaningful day in the history of the Revolutionary War and the legend of the creation of the United States. That night, General George Washington began a surprise attack against Hessian forces in Trenton, New Jersey. Planned – in earnest and in secrecy – for days prior, on that night Washington led his Continental Army across a frigid Delaware River against all logistical odds. The ensuing battle resulted in three dead and six wounded Americans… and 22 dead and 98 wounded Hessians. Washington and his troops also captured 1,000 prisoners and took muskets, powder, and artillery from their foes.
The event was famously immortalized in a painting by German painter Emanuel Leutze, which hangs in The American Wing of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and is the subject of a new Met Bulletin. Over on The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s website, there is a wonderful podcast by the Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture, Carrie Rebora Barratt, in which she offers not only an evocative telling of the episode in Revolutionary War history, but also a fascinating history of the painting itself.
If you can’t get go The Metropolitan Museum of Art this holiday season to see the painting in person, the following YouTube video about the reframing of the famous piece of art will make you feel as though you are there.