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.”
Thursday, 24 April 2014 00:00
Night On The Town has been a fixture in Mineola, honoring community pillars and charities with a evening of great food and fun. This year, event reps have a new goal in mind for the May 7 event at Jericho Terrace: 1,000 attendees and $100,000 raised for the
Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the night’s yearly beneficiary. The event raised $72,500 last year.
“If you want to buy a ticket or write a check, you don’t make it out to no one else other than the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society,” said event coordinator and Piccola Bussola owner Tony Lubrano. “All of the money goes straight to them.”
Lubrano’s family has been personally touched by leukemia, specifically his late father, Pasquale. The 2012 extravaganza marked the first recipient of the Pasquale Lubrano Community Service Award to the event’s honoree, former state Senator Michael Balboni.
Wednesday, 23 April 2014 00:00
After two terms on the Mineola School Board and six years of service to the district, trustee William Hornberger will not seek re-election in May, he confirmed last week.
“After six years of volunteering, I believe the district is on solid ground financially and moving in the right direction educationally,” he said. “I think it’s time for other members of the community to bring their ideas and vision to the board of education. It’s time to move onto the next chapter.”
Hornberger was first elected to the board in 2008 and re-elected in 2011, serving as board president and vice president in that span. The Williston Park resident oversaw the reconfiguration of the district which included the closing of the Cross Street and Willis
Avenue schools, one of the more challenging times in the district’s history. Those two schools have since been leased out to Solomon Schechter Day School and Harbor Child Care, respectively.
Thursday, 24 April 2014 00:00
Brian Heckelman and Peter Murphy’s defending held the Smithtown Red Wings in check the entire game as the BU10 Mineola FC team advanced to the Long Island Cup quarterfinal round with a 2-0 victory on Saturday, April 12. Liam Russelman scored first for
Mineola, taking a ball from the left sideline and cutting in along the top of the Smithtown box, where he launched a shot into the left corner of the RedWings goal.
The 1-0 lead lasted for most of the game, until Liam Going sidestepped three Red Wings defenders, drove to the net and slid a hard shot into the back of the net. Mineola improved to 4-0 in all competitions with the win.
Thursday, 24 April 2014 00:00
Jimmy Regan was a perfect man in that he put others before himself and made sacrifices—both for his country and in ultimately his life as an Army Ranger. Chaminade High School lacrosse star Jack Brennan, who grew up knowing Regan and who now plays for his alma mater, would be the first to admit that he is not a perfect man, but did put on a perfect performance this past Saturday night on the lacrosse field, scoring a hat trick in a 10-5 win against the Manhasset Indians and giving the Flyers the overall edge 4-3 in the annual charity game held in Regan’s name.
“I didn’t really do much, it was just a lot of feeds on the crease and I just finished and I got lucky,” Brennan said of his on-field performance, especially considering the significant amount of playing time as a junior on the team.