‘Washington Crossing the Delaware’ will be sold at auction

The other two canvases were shipped to the United States after Leutze finished them in 1851. The larger canvas went to the Stuyvesant Institute in New York, where it was shown in October 1851 under bright light, Kestenman said.

“It was a real event,” she said. “It was like going to the theater to see this painting.” Over the next four months, about 50,000 people paid 25 cents a ticket to see it.

The smaller painting was always privately owned and was created so that it could be more easily reproduced by an engraver, who could then mass-produce prints of the piece. In 1973, it sold for $ 260,000, which at the time was the most anyone had ever paid for an American painting.

Six years later, it was sold for $ 370,000, Ms. Kestenman. It was lent to the White House, where it was displayed under various administrations, according to Christie’s.

In 2015, the painting briefly hung in the Minnesota Marine Art Museum in Winona.

Ms. Kestenman said the painting is being sold by a private seller who does not want to be identified or discuss auctioning of the canvas.

“I think it’s going to sell extremely well,” said John Tilford, curator of collections for the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art in Atlanta. “It really boils down to how many very wealthy people want this painting.”

It only takes two bidders competing for the piece to get the price up, Mr. Tilford.

The value of the painting lies not only in its recognizability – it is so well known that it has been parodied by shows such as “Veep”, “The Muppets” and “Queer Eye” – but also in Leutze’s role in its creation, said Mr. Tilford.

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