Picturing America: Washington & Selma
Both Emanuel Leutze and James Karales belonged to immigrant families. Leutze immigrated to the U.S. as a child, and Karales was born to a Greek immigrant family in Ohio. What else do these men have in common? They are the creators of two of the most iconic pieces of art representing American struggles for freedom: "Washington Crossing the Delaware" and "The Selma-to-Montgomery March for Voting Rights in 1965." Learn more about these artists and their work with Picturing America.
View the video (6 minutes) from Picturing America.
- What parallels are there between Karales's photograph and Leutze's painting?
- What is the impact of the size of Leutze's painting?
- How do painting and photography differ as mediums for representing the struggles these artists portray?
- How do both works of art show movement?
- What unites these images, produced over a century apart and portraying events almost two centuries apart?
EDSITEment has a rich collection of resources for teaching about both U.S. independence and the Civil Rights movement. The curricula The American War for Independence and Competing Voices of the Civil Rights Movement (both for grades 9-12) are good places to start. Dive deeper into Karales's photograph, and the role of photojournalists in the wider Civil Rights movement, with the lesson plan Picturing Freedom: Selma-to-Montgomery March, 1965 (grades 6-12). This Closer Readings Commentary provides more detail about Leutze's painting.
After learning about both the war for American independence and the Civil Rights movement, place the two in conversation by analyzing how Leutze and Karales represent them. The following guiding questions can serve as a jumping-off point:
- What is the role of scale in both compositions?
- How historically accurate is each image? What is the effect of this accuracy (or lack thereof)?
- What is the effect of the medium of composition?