The Culper Spy
Giclée Print on Paper
Reproduction technique: Printed on neutral pH archival quality 100% acid free paper using the finest archival pigmented inks.
Each print is numbered and signed by the artist and accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity.
Paper Signed and Numbered
Image Size: 18" x 21” • Overall Size: 23” x 25" • Edition Size: 350 • $335
Giclée Canvas Prints
Reproduction technique: Printed with the finest archival pigmented inks on canvas. Each print is numbered and signed by the artist and accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity.
Canvas Signed and Numbered
Image Size: 19" x 22" • Edition Size: 50 • Issue Price: $530
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.
Read about the Artist Mort Künstler