Brought to the United States from Germany when he was nine years old, Emanuel Leutze was raised in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and then moved to Philadelphia where he got his art instruction from John Rubens Smith. Early recognized for his portrait and figure painting, he became well-known in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and in Southern States while he lived in Fredericksburg, Virginia.
In 1839, he returned to Philadelphia and local patrons, aware of his unusual talent, sponsored him to study at Dusseldorf Art Academy in Germany, where he stayed from 1841 to 1859. There the curriculum emphasis was on historical painting, and Leutze studied with Karl Lessing, German historical painter, and from this influence Leutze did a series of paintings on Christopher Columbus and the discovery of America. Most of Leutze's history painting was based on English and American history.
Leutze left the Academy to set up his own studio and hosted and mentored many American art students and other visitors from the United States. He became the link between what is known as the Dusseldorf School of historical painting and the American School, which was also expanding into landscape and genre painting. He also traveled extensively in Germany and Italy.
Leutze is best known for his historical painting, Washington Crossing the Delaware, which currently hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
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