Composition of “Washington Crossing the Delaware” by Emanuel Leutze Essay

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Describe visual paint of “Washington Crossing the Delaware” by Emanuel Leutze ( 1816-1868). Analyze how it works. Evaluate how well it works, good or bad CRITERIA- standards. Theorize generalize and compare and why I like this paintings.
Descriptive words,
1) Composition can be: linear, closed, multiplistic, planimetric, clear, painterly, open, unified, recessional, unclear. Symetrical, centrally focused, organized, static, balanced, restful, flowing, simple, minimal, shallow, asymmetrical, off-center, chaotic, kinetic or dynamic, askew, agitated, choppy, complex, detailed, deep or receding.
2) Structure/form can be: weighty, heavy or bulky, solid, massive, volumetric, mechanical or geometric, energetic, reachable, angular, spacially extended, open, rigid, brittle, rounded or bulbous, light, delicate, ethereal, modest or splender, whispy, organic, passive, remote, curvilinear, closed, plastic, elastic, flat or angular.
3) Surface Texture can be: smooth, soft, tactile, sharp or crisp, linear, uniform or consistent, repetitive, sensuous, flowing, rough, hard or brittle, repulsive, hazy or subdued, painterly, undulating or inconsistent, varied, harsh, faceted or broken.
4) Color value can be: bright or vibrant, warm, harmonious, strong or bold, light, harsh, natural, blended, subdued, cool, dissonant or contrasting, subtle or pale, dark, diffused, unnatural, isolated or compartmentalized.
5) Space/Architectural can be: Symmetrical, light, uplifting, vertical, contained or compact, harmonized with surroundings, externally oriented, axially aligned, airy, asymmetrical, dense earthbound, horizontal, expansive or sprawling, place in contrast, internally oriented, clustered or non-directional, suffocating or oppressive.
EXAMPLES: ……The (flowing/choppy)character of the composition is quite (symmetrical/asymmetrical), enhanced by the (orderly/chaotic)placement of the individual elements. “The elements overlap tumultuously in a fury of shape and texture.” “The crisp edgessharply distinguish one shape from another in an orderly fashion.”


Here’s a snippet of the essay.


The painting was done in the 19th century by a German artist known as Immanuel Leutze. It describes a historic moment when George Washington led the American troops across the Delaware River in a surprise attack leveled against the Hessian troops during the battle of Trenton. The artist made a large painting that measured about 12 feet high and 21 feet long. In the composition of an image, artist may use a combination of elements to express the emotional and patriotic theme of this event. These elements include color, proportion, perspective, and motion (Roberts, 2008, 56).


Leutze utilized perspective to reveal a three-dimensional scene on a two-dimensional canvas. The objects far away have been drawn relatively smaller to bring an illusion that the boat is near. The soldiers in the distance seem smaller than the ones in the foreground. On the left corner of the picture, a sailor is digging an oar into an ice floe. The sailor’s left arm has been foreshortened so that its upper part may be blocked from the viewers. Even the right arm is relatively shorter than it would be if it was extended straight down instead of being at an angle towards the viewers. This element of foreshortening has been utilized to create a sense of depth.


Color has also been utilized to elicit perspective; the painter knew that real world colors would seem duller when far away. The soldiers at the distance are painted in shades of brown and blue. The objects in the foreground are painted in bright colors and this brings them visually forward in space, away from the horizon. The details, as attested by the atmosphere in the background of the composition, may be softening farther into the background with dark and light contrasts.


Light has been used to emphasize the most important aspects in the painting. The sailors standing in the center of the boat are surrounded by light. This brings out the message that George Washington would become the first American president; the American flag may also signify the ultimate separation of America from England.

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