Art Showcase

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The Art of Mort Künstler / The American Spirit / A New Nation

Here you will find a pictorial chronicle of the drama and excitement of American History. These paintings give the viewer an insight into the tumultuous life of this young nation that mere words cannot achieve.

Washington's Spyglass
Head of Elk, Maryland, August 26, 1777

Limited edition print is available.
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Original Painting available for sale.
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Historical Information
A fleet of more than 200 ships debarked 17,000 British and German troops at Head of Elk, Maryland (present-day Elkton), on August 25, 1776. After weeks at sea in brutal heat, the horses on board had suffered severely from dehydration. The redcoats did not feel much better. Nevertheless, they managed a cheer as General William Howe and his brother Lord Richard Howe came ashore. They then turned to the business of establishing a landing perimeter and foraging in the surrounding woods, which were "filled with snakes and toads," and where the racket raised by cicadas and katydids was so loud that "two men could not speak to each other."

Washington meanwhile had held a tense Council of War in Warwick Township, in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, on August 21. Some advised an immediate attack on the British, while others urged caution. To gather more information, Washington set out with the Marquis de Lafayette (just arrived from France), Nathanael Greene, and a cavalry guard on August 26 to scout the enemy lines. From a hill above Head of Elk, Washington cocked a spyglass against a tree and observed the enemy. The British were tired, but prepared–and the general decided an assault on them would be premature.

Evening fell before he and his party could depart. They wandered in the gathering twilight looking for shelter, and then slogged blindly through an evening rainstorm. Finally, in the murk they sighted a house, apparently empty. Here they spent the night, only fifteen minutes' ride away from the enemy lines. After a sleepless night, the Americans raced off early the next morning. Only later did they discover that the house they had stayed in was owned by a prominent local Tory, and that they had been lucky to avoid detection.


All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Künstler, Edward Lengel, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright © 2001-2022. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.