German-born American painter, famous for his realistic and dramatic paintings of historic events.
Leutze was born in Würtemberg, present-day Germany on May 24, 1816. When he was nine years old, his family moved to Fredericksburg, Virginia, U.S. He later moved to Philadelphia, to study art.
Leutze had some early nation-wide success in portrait painting, before returning to Philadelphia in 1839. He only stayed there for a mere two years, after which he went back to Europe, where he perfected his skills at the Düsseldorf Art Academy for nearly two decades.
He then went on to setting up his own studio, mentoring and influencing many young American students, and traveling around Europe.
His most famous painting, George Washington Crossing the Delaware (oil on canvas), was painted in 1851 as a replica of an earlier version that was later destroyed in World War II. The replica was donated in 1868 by John S. Kennedy to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, where it hangs today. Its focal point is an immobile George Washington, standing in a boat, gazing towards the shore amongst the hustle-bustle of his struggling men. The painting measures 378.5 cm x 647.7 cm (122/5" x 211/4").
He continued to travel, but moved to the U.S. yet again, working in New York and Washington, D.C., and finally settled in the latter with his German wife and children. Here, he created what must be regarded as his second most famous painting, Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way for the Capitol in 1862 before passing away on July 18, 1868, at the age of 52.