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

Featured

Bartholdi Fountain and Park at night surrounded by plant life.
Bartholdi Park serves as a home landscape demonstration garden and showcases...

Featured

Screenshot of Google Maps image of United States Capitol and surrounding areas.
Located at the center of Washington, D.C., the U.S. Capitol Building and other...

Featured

Photo of Dome damage and scaffolding.
As scaffolding installation is completed on the Capitol Dome, the restoration...

Featured

Statue of John L. “Jack” Swigert, Jr.
Visitors to the Capitol are often drawn to the "big ticket" items,...

Declaration of Independence

Declaration of Independence frieze
Filippo Costaggini
Artist

Frieze of American History
Rotunda
U.S. Capitol

Overview 

This idealized depiction shows the principal authors of the Declaration of Independence, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, reading the document to colonists. (1776)

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