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Constantino Brumidi, born Rome, Italy 1805-died Washington, DC 1880  Search this
George Washington  Search this
oil on canvas
35 1/4 in. (89.5 cm) diam.
ca. 1859-1862
Gallery Label:
Brumidi was commissioned to paint the ceiling decoration in the rotunda of the United States Capitol, and presented this study to gain approval to begin the monumental work. He chose to paint George Washington in the center of the dome, having ascended to the heavens, looking down upon the visitor. Steeped in classical mythology, Brumidi presents George Washington as Zeus, chief among the Greek gods, flanked by thirteen female figures representing the original thirteen colonies. Six vignettes form the outer edge of the decoration, with allegories pairing Greek gods and goddesses with an aspect of American prowess and ingenuity. Brumidi incorporated current events into his vignettes: at the bottom of this painting, Athena--portrayed as goddess of war--vanquishes the forces of evil, here portrayed by Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, and his vice president, Alexander H. Stephens. The completion of the dome in 1865 came to symbolize a newly reunited America after the Civil War.
Allegory\arts and sciences\agriculture  Search this
Allegory\civic\war  Search this
Allegory\civic\liberty  Search this
Study\mural study  Search this
Portrait male  Search this
Allegory\other\triumph  Search this
Allegory\arts and sciences\science  Search this
Allegory\quality\grandeur  Search this
Credit Line:
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase made possible by the American Art Forum
Object number:
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Smithsonian American Art Museum Collection
Painting and Sculpture
On View:
Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2nd Floor, East Wing
Data Source:
Smithsonian American Art Museum