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Washington Crossing the Delaware, from the series History
archival pigment print
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Donald Standford Rosenfeld Jr. 2017.41.9

One of the most repeated stories about the nation’s first president is his famous Delaware River crossing on December 25, 1776, during the Revolutionary War. As a general in the Continental army, George Washington led 2,400 soldiers across the river in the middle of the night during a severe snowstorm. Levinthal focuses on the toy figure of Washington standing tall and pointing decisively ahead, unimpeded by ice and wind. The artificiality of the figure is immediately apparent, underscoring the fiction that lies at the heart of how Americans visualize this historic event.
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