When Johnson went to Düsseldorf, it was to study with artists connected to the Düsseldorf Academy; however, the most important influence on him was the German-American history painter Emanuel Leutze (1816–1868), whose studio Johnson entered in early 1851.
One of Leutze’s most important works was Washington Crossing the Delaware—a scene of the American general crossing the Delaware River on Christmas night of 1776 to execute a surprise attack on Hessian troops (allied with British troops) garrisoned in the Trenton, New Jersey area. Leutze did two versions. The first was partially destroyed by fire; the second was made in his studio as a substitute until insurance claims released the first version. This second version now resides at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York [See John K. Howat, Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art 26, no. 7 (March 1968)]. —PH