The Apotheosis of Washington

Last updated
The Apotheosis of Washington, as seen looking up from the capitol rotunda Apotheosis of George Washington.jpg
The Apotheosis of Washington, as seen looking up from the capitol rotunda
Detail showing George Washington Apotheosis of Washington - Close up of George Washington (6881712763).jpg
Detail showing George Washington

The Apotheosis of Washington is the fresco painted by Greek-Italian artist Constantino Brumidi in 1865 and visible through the oculus of the dome in the rotunda of the United States Capitol Building. The fresco is suspended 180 feet (55 m) above the rotunda floor and covers an area of 4,664 square feet (433.3 m2). The figures painted are up to 15 feet (4.6 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 ($654,696 in today's funds [1] ) for the fresco.

Fresco Mural painting upon freshly laid lime plaster

Fresco is a technique of mural painting executed upon freshly laid, or wet lime plaster. Water is used as the vehicle for the dry-powder pigment to merge with the plaster, and with the setting of the plaster, the painting becomes an integral part of the wall. The word fresco is derived from the Italian adjective fresco meaning "fresh", and may thus be contrasted with fresco-secco or secco mural painting techniques, which are applied to dried plaster, to supplement painting in fresco. The fresco technique has been employed since antiquity and is closely associated with Italian Renaissance painting.

Italian art

Since ancient times, Greeks, Etruscans and Celts have inhabited the south, centre and north of the Italian peninsula respectively. The very numerous Rock Drawings in Valcamonica go back to 8,000 BC, and there are rich remains of Etruscan art from thousands of tombs, as well as rich remains from the Greek colonies at Paestum, Agrigento and elsewhere. Ancient Rome finally emerged as the dominant Italian and European power. The Roman remains in Italy are of extraordinary richness, from the grand Imperial monuments of Rome itself to the survival of exceptionally preserved ordinary buildings in Pompeii and neighbouring sites. Following the fall of the Roman Empire, in the Middle Ages Italy, especially the north, remained an important centre, not only of the Carolingian art and Ottonian art of the Holy Roman Emperors, but for the Byzantine art of Ravenna and other sites.

Constantino Brumidi Greek-Italian-American painter

Constantino Brumidi was a Greek-Italian-American historical painter, best known and honored for his fresco work in the Capitol Building in Washington, DC.

Contents

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.

Vatican City Independent city-state within Rome, Italy

Vatican City, officially Vatican City State, is an independent city-state enclaved within Rome, Italy. Established with the Lateran Treaty (1929), it is distinct from, yet under "full ownership, exclusive dominion, and sovereign authority and jurisdiction" of the Holy See. With an area of 44 hectares, and a population of about 1,000, it is the smallest sovereign state in the world by both area and population.

Pope Gregory XVI 254th Pope of the Catholic Church

Pope Gregory XVI, born Bartolomeo Alberto Cappellari, was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 2 February 1831 to his death in 1846. He had adopted the name Mauro upon entering the religious order of the Camaldolese.

Aristocracy is a form of government that places strength in the hands of a small, privileged ruling class. The term derives from the Greek aristokratia, meaning 'rule of the best'.

Symbolism

Upside down above Washington is the banner E Pluribus Unum meaning "out of many, one". Brumidi, Constantino - Apotheosis of Washington, detail E Pluribus Unum - 1865.jpg
Upside down above Washington is the banner E Pluribus Unum meaning "out of many, one".

The Apotheosis of Washington depicts George Washington sitting amongst the heavens in an exalted manner, or in literal terms, ascending and becoming a god (apotheosis). Washington, the first U.S. president and commander-in-chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, is allegorically represented, surrounded by figures from classical mythology. Washington is draped in purple, a royal color, with a rainbow arch at his feet, flanked by the goddess Victoria (draped in green, using a horn) to his left and the Goddess of Liberty to his right. Liberty wears a red Phrygian cap, symbolizing emancipation, from a Roman tradition where sons leaving the home and/or slaves being emancipated would be given a red cap. She holds a fasces in her right hand and an open book in the other.

George Washington First President of the United States

George Washington was an American political leader, military general, statesman, and Founding Father who served as the first president of the United States from 1789 to 1797. He led Patriot forces to victory in the nation's War for Independence. He presided at the Constitutional Convention of 1787 which established the U.S. Constitution and a federal government. Washington has been called the "Father of His Country" for his manifold leadership in the formative days of the new nation.

Apotheosis glorification of a subject to divine level

Apotheosis is the glorification of a subject to divine level and most commonly, the treatment of a human like a god. The term has meanings in theology, where it refers to a belief, and in art, where it refers to a genre.

President of the United States Head of state and of government of the United States

The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The president directs the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces.

Forming a circle between Liberty and Victory are 13 maidens, each with a star above her head, 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. Upside down above Washington is the banner E Pluribus Unum meaning "out of many, one".

Thirteen Colonies British American colonies which became the United States

The Thirteen Colonies, also known as the Thirteen British Colonies or the Thirteen American Colonies, were a group of colonies of Great Britain on the Atlantic coast of America founded in the 17th and 18th centuries which declared independence in 1776 and formed the United States of America. The Thirteen Colonies had very similar political, constitutional, and legal systems and were dominated by Protestant English-speakers. They were part of Britain's possessions in the New World, which also included colonies in Canada, Florida, and the Caribbean.

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". The perimeter scenes are not fully visible from the floor of the Capitol.

SceneDescription
Flickr - USCapitol - Apotheosis of Washington, War.jpg War
Freedom, also known as Columbia, is directly below Washington in the personification of War. The scene depicts a woman fighting for liberty with a raised sword, a cape, and a helmet and shield (in the colors of the American flag) trampling figures representing Tyranny and Kingly Power. To Freedom's left assisting her is a fierce bald eagle (the national bird of the United States) carrying arrows and a thunderbolt (reminiscent of the arrows carried by the eagle in the Great Seal of the United States).
Flickr - USCapitol - Apotheosis of Washington, Science.jpg Science
Minerva, the Roman goddess of crafts and wisdom, is portrayed with helmet and spear pointing to an electrical generator creating power stored in batteries next to a printing press, representing great American inventions. American scientists and inventors Benjamin Franklin, Samuel F. B. Morse, and Robert Fulton watch. In the left part of the scene a teacher demonstrates the use of dividers.
Flickr - USCapitol - Apotheosis of Washington, Marine.jpg Marine
This scene shows Neptune, the Roman sea-god, with trident and crown of seaweed riding in a shell chariot drawn by sea horses. Venus, goddess of love born from the sea, is depicted helping to lay the transatlantic telegraph cable which ran from America to the Telegraph Field in Ireland. [2] In the background is an ironclad warship with smokestacks.
Flickr - USCapitol - Apotheosis of Washington, Commerce.jpg Commerce
Mercury, the Roman god of commerce, with his winged petasos and sandals and a caduceus, is depicted giving a bag of gold to American Revolutionary War financier Robert Morris. To the left, men move a box on a dolly; on the right, the anchor and sailors lead into "Marine."
Flickr - USCapitol - Apotheosis of Washington, Mechanics.jpg Mechanics
Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and the forge, is depicted standing at an anvil with his foot on a cannon next to a pile of cannonballs. A steam engine is in the background. The man at the forge is thought to represent Charles Thomas, the supervisor of ironwork during the construction of the Capitol dome.
Flickr - USCapitol - Apotheosis of Washington, Agriculture.jpg Agriculture
Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture, is shown with a wreath of wheat and a cornucopia, symbol of plenty, while sitting on a McCormick mechanical reaper. The personification of Young America in a liberty cap holds the reins of the horses, while the goddess Flora gathers flowers in the foreground.

See also

American civil religion is a sociological theory that a nonsectarian quasi-religious faith exists within the United States with sacred symbols drawn from national history. Scholars have portrayed it as a cohesive force, a common set of values that foster social and cultural integration. The ritualistic elements of ceremonial deism found in American ceremonies and presidential invocations of God can be seen as expressions of the American civil religion. The very heavy emphasis on pan-Christian religious themes is quite distinctively American and the theory is designed to explain this.

<i>George Washington</i> (Greenough) sculpture by Horacio Greenough

George Washington, also known as Enthroned Washington, is a large marble sculpture by Horatio Greenough commissioned for the centennial of U.S President George Washington's birth in February 22, 1732. Completed in 1840, the statue was soon exhibited in the Rotunda of the United States Capitol and then moved to the Capitol's east lawn in 1843.

Related Research Articles

United States Capitol seat of the United States Congress

The United States Capitol, often called the Capitol Building, is the home of the United States Congress and the seat of the legislative branch of the U.S. federal government. It is located on Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Though no longer at the geographic center of the Federal District, the Capitol forms the origin point for the District's street-numbering system and the District's four quadrants.

<i>Statue of Freedom</i> 19th-century statue by Thomas Crawford on top of the US Capitol

The Statue of Freedom, also known as Armed Freedom or simply Freedom, is a bronze statue designed by Thomas Crawford (1814–1857) that, since 1863, has crowned the dome of the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. Originally named Freedom Triumphant in War and Peace, a U.S. government publication now states that the statue "is officially known as the Statue of Freedom". The statue depicts a female figure bearing a military helmet and holding a sheathed sword in her right hand and a laurel wreath and shield in her left.

Wisconsin State Capitol United States historic place

The Wisconsin State Capitol, in Madison, Wisconsin, houses both chambers of the Wisconsin legislature along with the Wisconsin Supreme Court and the Office of the Governor. Completed in 1917, the building is the fifth to serve as the Wisconsin capitol since the first territorial legislature convened in 1836 and the third building since Wisconsin was granted statehood in 1848. The Wisconsin State Capitol is the tallest building in Madison, a distinction that has been preserved by legislation that prohibits buildings taller than the columns surrounding the dome. The Capitol is located at the southwestern end of the Madison Isthmus. The streets surrounding the building form the Capitol Square, which is home to many restaurants and shops.

Texas State Capitol Seat of government of Texas

The Texas State Capitol is the capitol building and seat of government of the American state of Texas. Located in downtown Austin, Texas, the structure houses the offices and chambers of the Texas Legislature and of the Governor of Texas. Designed in 1881 by architect Elijah E. Myers, it was constructed from 1882 to 1888 under the direction of civil engineer Reuben Lindsay Walker. A $75 million underground extension was completed in 1993. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970 and recognized as a National Historic Landmark in 1986.

Georgia State Capitol United States historic place

The Georgia State Capitol is an architecturally and historically significant building in Atlanta, Georgia, United States. The building has been named a National Historic Landmark which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. As the primary office building of Georgia's government, the capitol houses the offices of the governor, lieutenant governor, and secretary of state on the second floor, chambers in which the General Assembly, consisting of the Georgia State Senate and Georgia House of Representatives, meets annually from January to April. The fourth floor houses visitors' galleries overlooking the legislative chambers and a museum located near the rotunda in which a statue of Miss Freedom caps the dome.

Nebraska State Capitol government building in Lincoln, Nebraska

The Nebraska State Capitol is the seat of government for the U.S. State of Nebraska and is located in downtown Lincoln. It was designed by New York architect Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue in 1920 and was constructed of Indiana limestone from 1922 to 1932. The capitol houses the primary executive and judicial offices of Nebraska and is home to the Nebraska Legislature—the only state unicameral legislature in the United States.

Iowa State Capitol United States historic place

The Iowa State Capitol, commonly called the Iowa Statehouse, is in Iowa's capital city, Des Moines. As the seat of the Iowa General Assembly, the building houses the Iowa Senate, Iowa House of Representatives, the Office of the Governor, and the Offices of the Attorney General, Auditor, Treasurer, and Secretary of State. The building also includes a chamber for the Iowa Supreme Court, although court activities usually take place in the neighboring Iowa Supreme Court building. The building was constructed between 1871 and 1886, and is the only five-domed capitol in the country.

Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul (Philadelphia) United States historic place

The Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, head church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia, is located at 18th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, on the east side of Logan Square in Philadelphia. It was built between 1846 and 1864, and was designed by Napoleon LeBrun, from original plans by the Reverend Mariano Muller and the Reverend John B. Tornatore, with the dome and Palladian facade, designed by John Notman, added after 1850. The interior was largely decorated by Constantino Brumidi.

Pennsylvania State Capitol The seat of government for the U.S. state of Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania State Capitol is the seat of government for the U.S. state of Pennsylvania located in downtown Harrisburg which was designed by architect Joseph Miller Huston in 1902 and completed in 1906 in a Beaux-Arts style with decorative Renaissance themes throughout. The capitol houses the legislative chambers for the Pennsylvania General Assembly, made up of the House of Representatives and the Senate, and the Harrisburg chambers for the Supreme and Superior Courts of Pennsylvania, as well as the offices of the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor. It is also the main building of the Pennsylvania State Capitol Complex.

Missouri State Capitol United States historic place

The Missouri State Capitol is the building that houses the legislative and executive branches of the government of the U.S. state of Missouri, as well as the Missouri General Assembly. Located in Jefferson City at 201 West Capitol Avenue, it is the third capitol in the city after the other two were demolished when they were damaged in fires. The domed building, designed by the New York City architectural firm of Tracy and Swartwout, was completed in 1917.

Idaho State Capitol United States historic place

The Idaho State Capitol in Boise is the home of the government of the state of Idaho. Although Lewiston, Idaho, briefly served as Idaho's capital from the formation of Idaho Territory in 1863, the territorial Legislature moved the capital to Boise on December 24, 1864.

Oregon State Capitol The building housing the state legislature and the offices of the governor, secretary of state, and treasurer of the U.S. state of Oregon

The Oregon State Capitol is the building housing the state legislature and the offices of the governor, secretary of state, and treasurer of the U.S. state of Oregon. It is located in the state capital, Salem. Constructed from 1936 to 1938 and expanded in 1977, the current building is the third to house the Oregon state government in Salem. The first two capitols in Salem were destroyed by fire, one in 1855 and the other in 1935.

United States Capitol rotunda Component of United States Capitol

The United States Capitol rotunda is the central rotunda of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., built 1818–1824. It is located below the Capitol dome, built 1857–1866; the later construction also extended the height of the rotunda walls. It is the tallest part of the Capitol and has been described as its "symbolic and physical heart."

Brumidi Corridors

The Brumidi Corridors are the vaulted, ornately decorated corridors on the first floor of the Senate wing in the United States Capitol.

United States Capitol crypt

The United States Capitol crypt is the large circular room filled with forty neoclassical Doric columns directly beneath the United States Capitol rotunda. It was built originally to support the rotunda as well as offer an entrance to Washington's Tomb. It currently serves as a museum and a repository for thirteen statues of the National Statuary Hall Collection.

Hall of Columns

The Hall of Columns is a more than 100-foot-long (30 m) hallway lined with twenty-eight fluted columns in the south wing extension of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. It is also the gallery for eighteen statues of the National Statuary Hall Collection.

United States Capitol dome dome situated above the United States Capitol which reaches upwards to 288 feet (88 m) in height and 96 feet (29 m) in diameter

The United States Capitol dome is the dome situated above the rotunda of the United States Capitol. The dome is 288 feet (88 m) in height and 96 feet (29 m) in diameter. It was designed by Thomas U. Walter, the fourth Architect of the Capitol, and constructed between 1855 and 1866 at a cost of $1,047,291.

Entrance Hall

The Entrance Hall is the primary and formal entrance to the White House, the official residence of the President of the United States. The room is rectilinear in shape and measures approximately 31 by 44 feet. Located on the State Floor, the room is entered from outdoors through the North Portico, which faces the North Lawn and Pennsylvania Avenue. The south side of the room opens to the Cross Hall through a screen of paired Roman Doric columns. The east wall opens to the Grand Staircase.

The United States Capitol Historical Society is an organization chartered by the United States Congress, beginning in 1962, to educate the public on the heritage and history of the United States Capitol, as well as its institutions and those individuals who have served them over time.

References

  1. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved January 2, 2019.Cite web requires |website= (help)
  2. buchanan-solutions.com. "Valentia Island, Ireland". The Telegraph Field. Archived from the original on 2013-06-21. Retrieved 2013-07-02.Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help); Cite web requires |website= (help)
International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.

Coordinates: 38°53′23″N77°0′32″W / 38.88972°N 77.00889°W / 38.88972; -77.00889