Minnesota Museum Purchases Iconic Work Of Art

The Minnesota Marine Art Museum (MMAM) in Winona, MN, made headlines today as it announced an impressive purchase of famous patriotic painting, “Washington Crossing the Delaware.” The painting, painted in 1851 by German born artist Emanuel Leutze, is one of only two surviving versions.

The famed painting, depicting George Washington with accompanying soldiers, holding the triumphant American flag, while gallantly crossing the Delaware River was unveiled on Sunday. The painting had been purchased from a private collector, who had it on loan to the White House for the past 35 years. The painting was first displayed Tuesday in the Minnesota Marine Art Museum.

“It looks just terrific,” museum co-founder Mary Burrichter told the Star Tribune.

“We had people crying in the audience last night when we unveiled it. People were gasping and didn’t know what to say.”

The artist, German-born Emanuel Leutze, was actually raised in the U.S., and painted the work in order to inspire Germans to rebel against their rulers. The Germans were the largest ethnic group to serve both sides in the American Civil War, which spanned from 1861 – 1865, lasting about four years.

Another version of the painting is owned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The version in Winona measure more than 3 feet by 6 feet wide, smaller than the one in New York, which is roughly 12-by-21 feet. A third version was painted, but destroyed by the British bombings at a German museum in 1942.

Burrichter and New York based art dealer John Driscoll arranged the purchase, but declined to comment what the historic painting cost.

The Minnesota Marine Art Museum was founded by Burrichter and husband, Bob Kierlin. Kierlin also founded Winona-based company Fastenal, valued at $15 billion.

The MMAM is a 501c3 nonprofit art museum, which holds 10 or more historical and contemporary exhibitions at one time. The Minnesota museum, 120 miles southeast of Minneapolis, has a central theme of water-themed works and was opened in July 27, 2006.

With around 1,400 paintings, including ones by Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, Renoir, Cassatt, Turner, Matisse, Kadinsky, Wyeth, Pablo Picasso, and Georgia O’Keeffe, the iconic Leutze painting will be at home.