Iconic painting of George Washington expected to sell for $15 million or more

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“Washington Crossing the Delaware” crossed the Mississippi River — from the Minnesota Marine Art Museum in Winona to the Christie’s auction house in New York.

Famous paintings that have been lent to the museum for a long time will be auctioned from May 12 for an estimated $ 15 to $ 20 million. Its sale can break the record as the most expensive piece from that period.

“This is the most important pre-20th century American painting on the auction market,” said Page Kestenmann, a specialist in American painting at Christie’s. “When sold at Christie’s in 1973, it set a record for American painting.”

This work, which depicts George Washington, who launched a bold attack during the American Revolutionary War, on the bow of a small boat, is two surviving versions of the German-born and immigrated historical painter Emanuel Leutze (1816-68). The smaller of them. America as a child. The second is on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The third version was destroyed in an air raid during World War II.

More than 3 feet high and nearly 6 feet wide, this version of the piece was purchased from individuals by Winona’s couple Mary Barrichter and Bob Kearin, founder of hardware supplier Fashionnal, between 1979 and 2014. Was exhibited at the White House. collector. They were helped by the late John Driscoll, a Minnesota-born New York-based art dealer.

Jennifer Marshall, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota, who specializes in American art and culture from the colonial era to the 1960s, said:

“It depicts the 1770s, but it was drawn in the 1880s and can be as popular as the Marvel movie. All of these are visible in curtains and lights.”

The Metropolitan Museum of Art version was rolled up and stored in the basement at various times because it was considered too patriotic or kitsch. But in the end it was back in fashion.

After purchasing the painting, Burrichter and Kierlin exhibited it at the Ocean Museum. There they have served as collection partners for many years. The museum exhibits 50-60 works owned by the couple, including works by Giorgio de Chirico, Max Pechstein, Edward Hopper and Toulouse Lautrec.

About two hours south of Twin Cities, the museum’s collection of hidden gems includes impressive examples of Hudson River School 19th-century American paintings, important Impressionist works, and 20th-century European photography. It contains.

The couple ended the loan of paintings in Washington this year and were withdrawn in March. The painting looked like the pinnacle of the museum, but it wasn’t part of a permanent collection and had no fixed end date for long-term loans.

“The museum is clearly pleased to have it here, as long as it was,” said the museum’s director, Scott Pollock. “A lot of effort has been put into interpreting it, telling the story, and creating the program that surrounds it.”

But saying goodbye is never easy.

“It’s difficult because people are obsessed with it,” Pollock said.

“It’s a moment to look back at this particular piece, the museum, and how its identity is wrapped up,” he said. “It has been on the top page of our website for years, and there are many interpretations of that historic moment that we want to discover and unpack.

“I think it’s part of the future work.”

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