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A man is confronted by a figure in a white mask and black robe, while several people sit in the background.

In a stone room with an elaborate concave ceiling and columns, two figures stand on the left-hand side of the image. The man on the right appears surprised by the other figure. The figure on the left is wearing a white mask and gloves, and a long black robe and hat. The figure’s arms are crossed with their index fingers pointing in opposite directions. On the right-hand side of the frame, further back in the room, two women, three children, a baby, and a man are gathered around a table. These figures are bathed in light from the window behind them.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze, American (Schwäbisch-Gmünd, Germany 1816 - 1868 Washington, DC)
The Summons
Other Titles
Former Title: Light and Shadow
Former Title: Entertaining the Messenger in the Outer Hall
Former Title: Entertaining the Messenger
Former Title: Light and Shade
Work Type
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Oil on canvas
79.4 x 114.9 cm (31 1/4 x 45 1/4 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: l.r.: E Leutze/56


Recorded Ownership History
Charles M. Leupp, New York, 1856-1860; William McDonald, Baltimore, 1867; Mrs. Harold Colvocoresses, 1943; with S. John Esposito, Middlefield, CT; Theodore E. Stebbins Jr., Boston, MA, 1976; his gift to the Harvard University Art Museums, 2007.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Theodore E. Stebbins Jr.
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art

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Publication History

  • "Chronique de New-York: Exposition de l'Academie nationale de dessin", Courier des Etats-Unis (New York, May 25, 1857), p. 2
  • "Emanuel Leutze", Illustrirte Zeitung (Leipzig, Germany, July 4, 1857), pp. 11-13, ill. p. 12
  • "Sketchings", The Crayon (July 1857), IV, p. 223
  • "The National Academy of Design", New York Tribune (New York, May 23, 1857), p. 5, p. 5
  • "Art Resources", Cosmopolitan Art Journal (March 4, 1859), p. 85
  • Exhibition of a Valuable Collection of Oil Paintings Comprising the Most Recent and Important Works of E. Leutze, Esq., auct. cat. (May 7, 1863), cat. 15
  • Henry T. Tuckerman, Book of the Artists: American Artist Life, Comprising Biographical and Critical Sketches of American Artists, Preceded by an Historical Account of the Rise and Progress of Art in America, Putnam (New York, NY, 1867), p. 336
  • Friedrich von Boetticher, Malerwerke des Neunzehnten Jahrhunderts, F. v. Boetticher (Dresden, Germany, 1891 - 1901), p. 858, cat. 26
  • Century Association, Exhibition of Works by Emanuel Leutze, exh. cat. (New York, 1946), p. 95, no. 65
  • Barbara S. Groseclose, Emanuel Leutze, 1816-1868, Freedom Is the Only King, Smithsonian Institution for the National Collection of Fine Arts (Washington D.C., 1976), no. 83
  • Carol Troyen, A Private Eye: Fifty Nineteenth-Century American Paintings, Drawings, & Watercolors from the Stebbins Collection, exh. cat., The Heckscher Museum of Art (Huntington, NY, 1977), no. 35
  • James T. Callow, "American Art in the Collection of Charles M. Leupp", The Magazine Antiques (November 1980), vol.118, p. 1000, pl. 5
  • Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr. and Melissa Renn, American Paintings at Harvard, Volume One: Paintings, Watercolors, and Pastels by Artists Born before 1826, Yale University Press (U.S.) and Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge and New Haven, 2014), pp. 35, 336-37, cat. 299, ill.
  • Monika Boosen and Joachim Haller, Emanuel Leutze: Leben und Werk, exh. cat. (Schwäbisch Gmünd, 2016), p. 99

Exhibition History

  • National Academy of Design Annual 1857, National Academy of Design, 01/01/1857 - 12/31/1857
  • A Private Eye: Fifty Nineteenth-Century American Paintings, Drawings, & Watercolors from the Stebbins Collection, The Heckscher Museum of Art, Huntington, 09/30/1977 - 11/06/1977; George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum, Springfield, 11/22/1977 - 01/08/1978

Subjects and Contexts

  • Google Art Project
  • Collection Highlights

Verification Level

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at