December 26, 2011
Seven minutes on the Red River of the southern U.S., the fickle border of Texas and Oklahoma, the river of story and legend. Good for a map study, good for the fun of it — how much do you really know about the Red River?
George Washington did not cross the Red River; George Washington may not have known the river even existed. His loss.
December 26, 2011
Past in the Present has this wonderful, terse post up:
Unless you’re a Hessian.
Passage of the Delaware, by Thomas Sully (1819). Now in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.
- Hessian? Do my students know what he’s talking about?
- What is the other famous painting of this event?
- Considering how famous that other painting is, isn’t it almost tragic this one isn’t more famous?
- Considering #3, how many other great paintings of U.S. history sit in museums, or in government buildings, waiting to be discovered? Maybe bloggers could help, by finding those paintings, photographing them, and posting the photographs.
- David Hanauer’s blog features the famous painting, and more paintings (including another version of this painting, by Sully) — and photographs of the area, historic buildings and artifacts, and information about the crossing re-enactments today. Give it a look.
- Purchase a poster of the Sully painting from art.com
- Listing of the painting and explanation, at the site for Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts — including the history; the painting was commissioned by North Carolina, intended to hang in its state capitol building. Sully began the painting before getting confirmation of the commission from North Carolina’s governor, however. When the painting was done, it was discovered to be too large for the place it was intended to hang. The painting is 17 feet by 12 feet. It had been in storage since the Boston MFA acquired it in 1903, until hung in the gallery in 2010.
- Fascinating series of photos of the massive painting being hung in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, from the Boston Globe’s site, boston.com (I don’t know whether the photos ever ran in the paper)
- History of the painting from The Art Bulletin in 1973 — an article by Philipp P. Fehl (unfortunately, part of the article is behind a paywall)
- Wall Street Journal article about the painting, and its emergence from a century of hiding – “In Sully’s masterwork, Washington and his army are now on the move. Astride a horse, right hand on his hip, Washington looks confident and proud that his army of 2,400 men with 18 artillery pieces has almost completed the crossing of the treacherous ice-choked Delaware River from Philadelphia, and will soon be fully assembled on the New Jersey shore. A throng of anxious men surrounds him. Gen. Henry Knox is pointing his sword. Gen. Nathanial Greene is mounting his horse. Washington’s servant, William Lee, and a figure who may be Gen. John Sullivan look on uneasily. But the 44-year-old Washington is tranquil and resolute, his face serene. He seems transfigured, as if communing with the gods of fortune. Sully has turned a crucial juncture in time and history into a timeless work of art. “