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The Portrait Of Patriotism Displayed In Mineola

Former county executive commissioned more accurate depiction of Washington crossing the Delaware River by local artist

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.”

News

The Mineola Fire Department will kick off its Operation Santa program on Friday, Dec. 12.  Santa and his helpers will be visiting homes in Mineola until Dec. 23.  Santa will start his rounds each night at approximately 7 p.m.

 

If you would like Santa to stop by your home and visit your children, please call Ex-Chief Gary Mazur at 516-746-6583 and he will return your call as soon as possible to arrange a visit for you.  Please leave your cell and home numbers and call early as dates fill up fast.


Audience members were treated to an evening of incredible singing by 10 extremely talented Wheatley students during the Tri-M Music Honor Society’s Wheatley Idol X on Friday, Nov. 7, in the packed Wheatley auditorium.

 

Nada Al-Okla, sang “Titanium” by David Guetta, Michaela Balboni sang “Safe and Sound” by Capital Cities, Alex Boubour sang “Love Song” by The Cure, Melanie Esquilin sang “At Last” by Etta James, Tessa Karikas sang “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus, Ben Lee sang “Sunday Morning” by Maroon 5, Lauren Levine sang “Drops of Jupiter” by Train, Ally Levy sang “A

Drop in the Ocean” by Ron Pope, Juliana Luber sang “Reflection” by Alan Menken and Morgan Misk sang “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse.


Sports

Mineola High School student Mary Elizabeth Smith signed her letter of intent to attend Stetson University in the fall. She is receiving a partial athletic scholarship and will be a member of the Stetson Rowing team.  

 

Smith is an accomplished rower who has trained locally and competed nationally. She began her rowing career as a 10th grader and ranks 53 in her rowing classification. 


 

In their semifinals home playoff game, the 9-year-old Mineola Chiefs (7-2) shut out perennial power Seaford Broncos 21-0. 

 

The Chiefs defense, the strength of the team, was lights out, making gang tackles all over the field. The defensive line of Charlie Villa, Luigi Kaloudis, Michael Nygaard, Luke Ruiz, John Jochym, Zachary Bohringer, Johnny Kessler, Zakria Zulfiqar and Jack McCormack kept the pressure on Seaford’s offense all game long. The Linebackers John Viggiani and Nick Rios attacked the runners and finished off the Broncos.


Calendar

Rockinghams - November 29

Village Green Tree Lighting - December 2

Village Meeting - December 3 


Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com