The Midnight Retreat by Levon West
George Washington Crossing the Delaware

This item is sold.  It has been placed here in our online archives as a service for researchers and collectors.

Midnight Retreat
Midnight Retreat Midnight Retreat Midnight Retreat Frame corner
Levon West (1900-1968)
(artist and etcher)
The Midnight Retreat
American: 1932
Etching
Signed in pencil lower left, titled lower right
“G.W.” watermark lower left,
eagle on shield watermark upper right
13 x 9 inches, platemark
19.5 x 15 inches, sheet
22.5 x 18.75 inches, frame
Sold, please inquire as to the availability of similar items.

Dramatic print depicting General George Washington’s retreat across the Delaware River on December 7, 1776, during the Revolutionary War.  At the top, Washington and Colonel Glover, both on horseback, watch over the nighttime crossing from the dark shoreline as a third man holds a torch.  In the foreground, a boat full of soldiers gets under way, while another boat ferries a cannon toward the horizon.  The clever composition integrating these three scenes creates a cinematic narrative effect as the eye moves from one to the other, as if we were watching a movie cutting from a scene of the crossing to a shot of Washington overseeing the operation.  Print is mounted in an ebonized frame.

This print was part of The Bicentennial Pageant of George Washington, a suite of 20 etchings, each by a different artist, depicting scenes from Washington’s life. Other prominent printmakers who participated included Arthur Heintzelman, Samuel Chamberlain and Childe F. Hassam.  The original portfolio was presented to President Herbert Hoover at the White House.  It was later published in an edition of 1,000 by the George Washington Memorial Association, Inc., on paper with a “G.W” watermark done as a facsimile of Washington’s signature.  The print offered here comes from that edition. 

Levon West was an etcher, painter, photographer, writer and teacher.  As a photographer, he used the name “Ivan Dmitri.”  Born in North Dakota, he graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1924 and studied at the Art Student’s League and with J. Pennell the following year.  West was a member of the Society of American Etchers and the American Institute of Graphic Arts, and published at least two instructional books, including Making an Etching (1930).  By the 1940s, his work was in the collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the New York Public Library, the Brooklyn Museum, the Havemeyer Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and many others.  He was represented by Kennedy Gallery in New York City.

References:

“Childe Hassam.”  Artfacts.net.  http://www.artfacts.net/index.php/pageType/artistInfo/artist/23772 (18 May 2006).

Falk, Peter Hastings, ed.  Who Was Who in American Art.  Madison, Connecticut: Sound View Press, 1985.  p. 671.


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