- The Apotheosis of Washington
"The Apotheosis of Washington" is the very large
frescopainted by Italian artist Constantino Brumidiin 1865 and visible through the oculusof the dome in the rotunda of the United States Capitol Building. The fresco is suspended convert|180|ft|m above the rotunda floor and covers an area of convert|4664|sqft|m2. The figures painted are up to convert|15|ft|m tall and are visible from the floor below. The dome was completed in 1863, and Brumidi painted it over the course of 11 months at the end of the Civil War. He was paid $40,000 for the fresco.
Brumidi had worked for three years in the Vatican under
Pope Gregory XVI, and served several aristocrats as an artist for palaces and villas, including the prince Torlonia. He immigrated to the United States in 1852, and spent much of the last 25 years of his life working in the Capitol. In addition to "The Apotheosis of Washington" he designed the Brumidi Corridors.
"The Apotheosis of Washington" depicts
George Washingtonascending to the heavens and becoming a god ( apotheosis). Washington, the first U.S. president and commander-in-chiefof the Continental Armyduring the American Revolutionary War, is allegorically represented, surrounded by figures from classical mythology. Washington is draped in purple, a royal color, with a rainbowarch at his feet, flanked by the goddess Victory (draped in green, using a horn) to his left and the goddess Liberty to his right. Liberty wears a red cap, symbolizing emancipation, from a Roman tradition where sons leaving the home would be given a red cap. She holds a fascesin her right hand and an open book in the other.
Forming a circle between Liberty and Victory are 13 maidens, each with a star above their heads, representing the original 13 colonies. Several of the maidens have their backs turned to Washington, said to represent the colonies that had seceded from the Union at the time of painting.
Surrounding Washington, the two goddesses, and the 13 maidens are six scenes lining the perimeter, each representing a national concept allegorically: from directly below Washington in the center and moving clockwise, "War," "Science," "Marine," "Commerce," "Mechanics," and "Agriculture":
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