Conservative artist's painting puts a Trump twist on iconic image and ignites Twitter

A conservative artist painted Trump and his administration 'crossing the swamp.'

ByKarolina Rivas
August 1, 2018, 3:32 PM

As Vice President Mike Pence embraces an American flag, National Security Advisor John Bolton cradles a rifle and press secretary Sarah Sanders and other members of the Trump administration row a boat through gator-infested waters, with President Donald Trump clutching a lantern as the tightly-packed vessel moves past the U.S. Capitol.

In an homage to painter Emanuel Leutze's famous 1851 depiction of George Washington crossing the Delaware River, conservative artist Jon McNaughton has created what he calls the “boat of freedom” in a newly-released painting titled “Crossing the Swamp.”

PHOTO: The "Crossing the Swamp" painting puts a Trump twist on the iconic image of George Washington crossing the Delaware River.
The "Crossing the Swamp" painting puts a Trump twist on the iconic image of George Washington crossing the Delaware River.
Courtesy JonMcNaughton/

"Over 240 years ago George Washington suffered through Valley Forge and crossed the Delaware River to bring an astonishing victory to the Continental Army," McNaughton wrote in his description of the painting. "This led to what many thought was impossible, to defeat a despot King and his formidable army.

"Today, Trump endeavors to cross the 'swamp' of Washington, D.C. as he carries the light of truth, hope, and prosperity."

Trump has long decried Washington, D.C.'s so-called "swamp" at campaign rallies and in speeches.

"It is time to drain the swamp in Washington, D.C.," Trump said at a Wisconsin campaign rally in October, 2016.

McNaughton told ABC News that Trump's phrase of "draining the swamp" was on his mind when painting, but did not think it would suit the depiction.

"The idea of draining the swamp is something I've been thinking about but you know to me realistically you're not going to drain the swamp in a term of a president," McNaughton said. "This is a process that could take a generation so instead of draining the swamp it made more sense to me to make something crossing the swamp."

PHOTO: Etching of "Washington Crossing the Delaware."
Etching of "Washington Crossing the Delaware."
UIG via Getty Images

Further on in McNaughton’s description of the painting, the artist argues that the murky water of D.C. is subject to “dangerous vermin, perfectly willing to destroy American prosperity for their personal ideologies and financial gain.”

McNaughton defines these "vermin" as "establishment Democrats, Never-Trumper-Republicans, [the] Deep State, and [the] Fake News Media."

"The country is really divided on this, obviously I get a lot of kickback from the left and a lot of support from the right," McNaughton said. "One of the ways I can normally gauge how well a painting is doing is how much kickback I get from the left. They're usually most vocal at first, but it's been a real positive experience with this painting. Things are looking good."

While some Twitter users enjoyed the painting others did not.

Fashion choices were also questioned.

McNaughton said in his artist biography that his paintings are often centered around religious or political figures.

"I prefer to paint pictures that I believe have relevance to what is going on in the world, that make a statement, that stand for something," McNaughton explained in his biography.

"I hope my work will create conversation and reach people on a deeper level," he continued. "I like to use metaphor and multiple levels of meaning to reach my viewer. If it makes them think and feel, then it is successful.”