Artist: Mort Künstlern Title: Culper Spy, The
Oyster Bay, Long Island, 1779 Size: Paper Image Size: 18" x 21” • Overall Size: 23” x 25" / Canvas: 19" x 22" Edition Size: Artist Hand Signed and Numbered Limited Edition to 350 with 50 Canvas Editions. Medium: Giclee on Paper (As Shown) and Canvas About the Art: Washington loved spy craft. Though far from being an expert spymaster, he nevertheless enjoyed the thrill of planning and executing escapades behind enemy lines. Washington’s most famous espionage operation was the Culper Spy Ring, which operated between Manhattan and Long Island to provide intelligence about British troop and ship movements in and around the city. The ring centered around two spies, Abraham Woodhull and Robert Townsend, who shared the pseudonym Samuel Culper.
Both Woodhull and Townsend hailed from the North Shore of Long Island. Abraham Woodhull, of Setauket, was the first spy recruited to the Culper Spy Ring. He signed his intelligence reports as “Samuel Culper” or “Samuel Culper, Sr.” Robert Townsend, who usually signed his reports as “Samuel Culper, Jr.,” was a merchant from Oyster Bay, who operated from his dry goods firm in Manhattan.
Robert Townsend was recruited to Washington’s service in the spring of 1779. His father, Samuel – who was unaware of his son’s spy activities – was also a merchant, and a member of the New York Provincial Congress. Samuel’s house in Oyster Bay, known as the Townsend Homestead (eventually renamed Raynham Hall), was taken over by British officers in 1778.
Early in the war Sir James Jay – brother of Continental Congress president John Jay and an amateur chemist – developed a special recipe for invisible ink. A spy could write a letter using the invisible ink on white paper – sometimes between the lines of seemingly innocuous letters, or on newspapers – and then send it out of the city. The recipient could then apply a reagent – what Washington called a “sympathetic stain” – to bring out the writing. Washington raved about the recipe.
Mort Künstler's Comments: I have been living in the Oyster Bay area since 1963 and knew the history of Raynham Hall and the story of the Culper Spy Ring during the Revolutionary War. It is a museum and tourist attraction here in Oyster Bay.
When Sterling Publishing Co. asked me to do a book based on my Revolutionary War paintings I was delighted. It meant I would need to add to my body of work on the subject, which included doing a painting with Raynham Hall as the backdrop - something I had always wanted to paint.
The Culper Spy shows Robert Townsend reading an encrypted letter during a visit to the Homestead. With the help of Harriet Gerard Clark, the Executive Director of Raynham Hall Museum, I was able to see the room Townsend frequently used. The room, as you see it in this painting, has been restored and looks exactly like this today. I am thrilled that The Culper Spy is featured in my latest book The New Nation: The History of the United States in Paintings and Eyewitness Accounts, helping to preserve events from that period in my own home town of Oyster Bay, New York.
Framing (paper) and Canvas Options No thank you, I just want the 17x23 unframed print. Unframed 17x2 AP Print, add (+$125) Unframed 21x28 SN Canvas Giclee, add (+$415) Unframed AP 21x28 SN Canvas Giclee, add (+$575) Unframed 27x36 SN Canvas Giclee, add (+$770) Unframed 36x48 SN Canvas Giclee, add (+$2770) Medium Honey Oak Frame, add (+$199) Black Matte Hardwood Frame , DL-8, #325,add (+$199) Small Driftwood Frame, DL-3, #4755, add (+$249) Cherry Frame w/ Gold Liner, DL-5, #1870, add (+$249) Walnut Frame w/ Gold Liner, DL-6, #3300, add (+$249) Large Dark Mahagony Frame, DL-9, #1895, add (+$249) Large Driftwood Frame, PR-1, #4950 , add (+$249) RoseWood Frame, PR-2, #1890, add (+$249) Antique Gold Frame w/ Bead Design , PR-3, #95140, add (+$249) Antique Gold Frame w/ Black Design, PR-4 , #95135, add (+$249)
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Inner Mat Antique White #251 Black #221 Brick #231 Burgundy #38 Charcoal #257 Creme #223 Dark Brown #106 Dark Mahogany #88 Dark Spruce #125 English Rose Pink #151 Gold #568 Khaki #92 Light Gray #82 Linen #128 Mauve #154 Midnight Blue #131 Mist Gray #112 Navy Blue #230 Pale Moss #253 Pineneedle Green #411 Putty #90 Royal Blue #142 Sage Green #247 Silver Mist #130 Spiced Brown #710 Storm Gray #114 Wedge Wood Blue #124
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