Stewards of the iconic buildings and grounds of Capitol Hill since 1793.

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The Rayburn House Office Building, completed in early 1965, is the third of three office buildings constructed for the United States House of Representatives.
The Rayburn House Office Building, completed in early 1965, is the third of...

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View of the U.S. Capitol Building from above at dusk
In order to ensure the safety of visitors and staff and to preserve the...

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Clive Atyeo, Gardener, USBG
Information about working for the Architect of the Capitol:

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Ginseng, the Divine Root.
Learn about ginseng from author David A. Taylor on September 26 at noon.

Burial of DeSoto

Burial of DeSoto frieze
Constantino Brumidi
Artist

Frieze of American History
Rotunda
U.S. Capitol

Overview 

Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto died of a fever while searching for gold in Florida and the territory north of the Gulf of Mexico. To protect his body from enemies, his men buried him at night in the Mississippi River, which he had been the first European to discover. (1542)

The frieze in the Rotunda of the United States Capitol contains a painted panorama depicting significant events in American history. Thomas U. Walter's 1859 cross-section drawing of the new dome (constructed 1855-1863) shows a recessed belt atop the Rotunda walls with relief sculpture. Eventually it was painted in true fresco, a difficult and exacting technique in which the pigments are applied directly onto wet plaster. As the plaster cures the colors become part of the wall. Consequently, each section of plaster must be painted the day it is laid. The frieze is painted in grisaille, a monochrome of whites and browns that resembles sculpture. It measures 8 feet 4 inches in height and approximately 300 feet in circumference. It starts 58 feet above the floor.

The frieze is the work of three artists, Constantino Brumidi, Filippo Costaggini and Allyn Cox. It was designed by Brumidi, an Italian artist who studied in Rome before emigrating to America. Brumidi created a sketch for the Rotunda frieze in 1859 but was not authorized to begin work until 1877.

Last Updated: October 10, 2014