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Quick Takes: Inaccuracies in George Washington painting

December 28, 2011

One of America's most famous images, a painting of George Washington crossing the Delaware River, got much of the story wrong: The American commander wouldn't have stood triumphantly on a rowboat in daylight, but on a ferry bracing himself against a fierce snowstorm on Christmas night.

That's the historic scene depicted in a new painting that went on display this week at the New-York Historical Society museum in Manhattan.

"No one in his right mind would have stood up in a rowboat in that weather," artist Mort Kunstler said. "It would have capsized."

He said he's "not knocking the original" — the well-known 1851 painting by German-born artist Emanuel Leutze, who Kunstler says "was glorifying Washington using what he knew at the time." But Kunstler said his new piece, titled "Washington's Crossing: McKonkey's Ferry, Dec. 26, 1776," is aimed at righting the historical mistakes.

Relying on military experts and historians, plus visits to the river site, Kunstler came up with a list of inaccuracies in Leutze's painting and set out to correct them in his new work.

The most obvious is that Washington would not have used the earliest Stars-and-Stripes flag that appears in the Leutze work; it wasn't adopted until 1777.

Instead of a rowboat, the troops probably boarded a flat-bottomed ferry big and stable enough to carry cannons, plus the horses to pull them, Kunstler said. Such boats were hitched to cables to stabilize them.

The Leutze painting shows the New Jersey shore clearly in the distance. But Kunstler says documents show a storm had swept in that night, bringing freezing rain, hail and snow that would have cut the visibility.

—Associated Press

Singer's marriage lasts 16 days

Sinead O'Connor is showing Kim Kardashian a thing or two when it comes to whirlwind marriages.

The Irish singer tied the knot with her short-time boyfriend, Barry Herridge, on her 45th birthday earlier this month in Las Vegas — and 16 days later, she and Herridge were calling it quits.

In a blog post on her official site, O'Connor announced the split ahead of an impending media leak of the info.

"Within 3 hours of the ceremony being over the marriage was kiboshed by the behaviour of certain people in my husband's life," she said.

O'Connor wrote that the marriage lasted 16 days, ending on Christmas Eve. She and Herridge lived together for only seven days, she said.

It was the singer's fourth marriage.

—Patrick Kevin Day

Oscar ballots mailed to voters

Academy Awards season is officially on. Nominations ballots for the 84th Oscar show are in the mail.

Oscar organizers mailed ballots Tuesday to 5,783 voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Ballots are due back Jan. 13, and Oscar nominations will be announced Jan. 24.

The Oscar ceremony is set for Feb. 26, with Billy Crystal returning as host for the first time in eight years.

—Associated Press

Murder suspect seized in China

Chinese police have arrested a suspect in the murder of an official 17 years ago that became the basis of a popular film about Tibetan antelope poaching

Ranger and government official Sonam Dargye was killed during a gunfight with poachers as he tried to protect endangered antelopes in western China in 1994.

Dargye's murder on the sparsely populated Qinghai-Tibet plateau inspired the 2004 film "Mountain Patrol" by Chinese director Lu Chuan. It also drew attention to the Tibetan antelope, which became endangered after being hunted for its wool that is used to make luxury shahtoosh shawls.

The official Xinhua News Agency said Tuesday that a suspect in the group that allegedly shot Dargye was arrested in Qinghai province Sunday after six others surrendered.

—Associated Press


Engaged: Matthew McConaughey is engaged to marry his longtime girlfriend, Camila Alves. The 42-year-old actor and the Brazilian model have two children together.

Also engaged: Grammy-winning singer John Legend also has gotten engaged, to model Chrissy Teigen.

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