George Washington really did sleep here.
But that’s not what today’s we-missed-President’s Day-by-a-day post is about.
It’s about the famous “Washington Crossing the Delaware” painting — and what famed (and cited-just-Sunday-on-“06880”) Westport illustrator Stevan Dohanos did with it.
This is the Saturday Evening Post cover of February 24, 1951. It comes courtesy of former Westporter Bill Banks, who posted it on Facebook.
And here’s the back story, courtesy of the Saturday Evening Post webpage. (Believe it or not, they’re still publishing. Who knew?)
It is daunting to consider the work realist painter Stevan Dohanos put into this painting. Reproducing images of over a dozen students (and their teacher) with meticulous detail should have been artistic challenge enough, but duplicating Emanuel Leutze’s famous 1850 painting is mind-boggling.
Much has been criticized about Leutze’s Washington Crossing the Delaware: “The crossing was at night (not daytime)”; “That particular version of the flag came later”; and “Washington was only in his 40s and not the elderly man we see here”; to name a few.
While the historical inconsistencies are worth noting, the huge 21-by-12-foot painting of that 1776 Christmas night is still a magnificent accomplishment and a tribute to a critical turning point in American history. The painting today is part of the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
Happy birthday, George! (It’s Friday).
And congratulations, Stevan. Your work lives on.