Written by Rich Forestano Tuesday, 20 November 2012 00:00
The image of General George Washington crossing the Delaware River is an indelible moment etched into the psyche of American History. The regal, alluring 1851 Emmanuel Gottlieb Leutze painting has been showcased clear across the globe, marveled by art lovers and passersby.
As the hours ticked away on Christmas in 1776, the frigid night before the Battle of Trenton, Washington and his men inched towards New Jersey, surprising Hessian forces with an American attack. The story would go on to immortalize the first president of the United States.
Although the 161-year-old piece that now hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art amazes anyone who gets to see it, there’s just one thing…it’s a bit off, according to a certain Long Island painter.
Former Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi commissioned Cove Neck artist Mort Küntsler to correct the known errors of Leutze’s work, most notably the American flag, the size of the boat and the light source in the painting. The work was recently on display at Chaminade High School’s Athletic Center in Mineola where the two gave a talk to students, highlighting the path from the painting’s inception to its unveiling in December 2011.
The idea of Küntsler, a respected Civil War painter, to take on this daunting task originated during a trip to the Nassau County Museum of Art in Roslyn Harbor. His reaction to Suozzi was a stern ‘no’ initially.
“This is an iconic image that everyone in the world knows,” Küntsler said of his first response. “How am I going to do anything with it? I didn’t know much about the situation at the time.”
With his work spanning about two months, Küntsler painted a dark sky, with snow falling as the ferry, not a rowboat, reached Trenton. While Leutze’s version depicts chunks of ice piercing the surface of the water, Küntsler’s features flat sheets of frozen areas of the Delaware River intruding on Washington’s mission, which according to Küntsler is how the river usually solidifies.
Küntsler called his painting, dubbed “Washington’s Crossing at McKonkey’s Ferry,” the most important painting he has completed in his life. In both paintings, the then-future president is standing at the front of the ferry, but in Küntsler’s piece, Washington is clinging to a canon.
Why? Because the flag he’s holding in Leutze’s version was not in use until 1777.
“Mr. Suozzi was so enthusiastic about it that he drove me down to McKonkey’s Ferry,” Kuntsler said. “Washington’s Crossing is the name of the town now. To get a large number of troops, horses and covered wagons across during that time, they had ferryboats.
“[Washington] ran a cable down stream and they used poles, not oars and at the same time, the [rip] current is taking them down stream and the boat has to be down stream of the cable, otherwise it’s going to get fouled up.”
Suozzi, a history buff, said it was a no-brainer to commission Küntsler to create the painting.
“The Metropolitan Museum of Art says this is the most visited painting they have,” Suozzi said of the Leutze’s version. “It’s a beautiful, inspirational painting…but it’s completely inaccurate. [Mort’s] painting will be the one they’re putting in textbooks one day.”
David Hackett Fischer, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Washington’s Crossing, which Küntsler read while working on the project, called the piece a “major effort at accuracy from a study of the historical evidence.”
While saying one can’t compare to the other, Fischer, a history professor at Brandeis University in Massachusetts since 1962, stated that Küntsler went farther in the direction of using primary resources in creating the painting than Leutze.
“The results are interesting and attracting to a historian’s eye. I think the Leutze painting is a cultural icon of great imminence and will always remain so. It operates on a different level that way so I don’t think it’s useful to try to compare their merits because they’re different sources of work with different purposes.”
Friday, 13 December 2013 00:00
Station Plaza Diner owner Nick Liakonis indicated he has submitted a lease proposal to Winthrop-University Hospital on Dec. 4 concerning the revamp and reconstruction of the “Welcome To Mineola” sign that sits atop his building at the
Mineola Long Island Rail Road Station. He said hospital reps asked in mid-September that he begin to draw up plans.
The location of the sign offers good exposure for the hospital if Winthrop secures the roof for rent and renovation. Winthrop is currently constructing a new $80-million, 95,000-square-foot diabetes research facility directly north of the sign, at the corner of Mineola Boulevard and Second Street, and expressed interest in the sign two months ago.
Thursday, 12 December 2013 00:00
Carmela Solomon, who has two children in the Mineola School District, is sad to say that learning is not fun for her sons anymore.
“It’s gotten better but it hasn’t been an easy couple of months and I fear the standards,” she said to about 70 concerned parents and educators at a town hall meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 3 at Mineola Middle School. Her fear: second- and third-graders will have to go to summer school.
A panel of teachers and administrators—Assistant Superintendent Patricia Burns, Middle School Principal Matthew Gaven, Jackson Avenue School Principal Cindi Gonzalez, English language arts developer Jodi Helming and mathematics coordinator Nicole Bartone — faced parents concerned about the new state standards and testing in the “common core curriculum.” Superintendent Michael Nagler moderated the talk.
Thursday, 12 December 2013 00:00
Students in the Karatatot Kids program at Charles Water Karate And Fitness in Williston Park get a chance to participate in “Special Time” at the end of each class. This is an opportunity for them to share something special in their lives with their teacher. It was created by Charles Water for the Karatatot class students to have a productive and fulfilling class and the children wait to the end to share their thoughts.
Karatatot is a combination of exercise and karate in a format specifically designed for children ages 4½ and up. In a fun filled and nurturing setting children learn concentration, discipline, respect, as well as an understanding of self defense at his or her own level. The results are improved strength, coordination, and flexibility and the self confidence for children.
Thursday, 12 December 2013 00:00
MAA Soccer is offering an indoor soccer program during January and February for soccer players born from 2006-2009. Each registrant will enjoy six, one-hour training sessions on Saturday’s during the first two months of 2014. The program is managed by MAA’s training partner, Empire Soccer Academy, and is designed to encourage soccer skills improvement through fun and challenging drills and games.
The clinics take place at the Mineola Village Community Center gym at 155 Washington Avenue. For more information, please visit www.mineolaaa.org or email email@example.com.