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

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William Henry Powell’s painting of the Discovery of the Mississippi by De Soto
William Henry Powell’s dramatic and brilliantly colored canvas was the last of...

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A crowd of people visiting the Capitol during visitor hours
Visitor Hours for the Buildings on Capitol Hill.

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Painted portrait of Dr. William Thornton
 The Architect of the Capitol (AOC) is the builder and steward of America’s...

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City of Trees book cover artwork
Enjoy the fall foliage that graces the U.S. Capitol Grounds on November 15 at...

Colonization of New England

Colonization of New England frieze
Filippo Costaggini
Artist

Frieze of American History
Rotunda
U.S. Capitol

Overview 

Early settlers cut and saw trees and use the lumber to construct a building, possibly a warehouse for their supplies.

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