Oil on canvas; 149 x 255 in. (378.5 x 647.7 cm). Painted in the artist’s studio in Düsseldorf, Germany. The first version, less grand, was destroyed by fire; this second version is over 21 feet wide. Originally displayed in New York and the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. In 1897 purchased by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY.
This iconic painting depicts General Washington leading a desperate Continental Army assault force across the Delaware River, from Pennsylvania to New Jersey, to defeat the Hessians, the day after Christmas, at the Battle of Trenton, 1776.
Colonel James Monroe holds the American flag; General Nathanael Greene, below Washington, gazes over the edge of the boat; Prince Whipple, slave to General William Wipple, may be the black man who works the oar on the left.
The head of Washington is based Houdon’s bust of the president from his life mask. Compare Thomas Sully’s version, less well-known, painted 30 years earlier.