Featured

Old Senate Chamber designed by Benjamin Henry Latrobe, this room was home to the U.S. Senate from 1819 until 1859 and later to the U.S. Supreme Court from 1860-1935.
Located north of the Capitol Rotunda is the richly decorated Old Senate...

Featured

Visitor Guide Gives Tour of Rotunda
Please note: Many of these Capitol Hill buildings are working office buildings...

Featured

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

Featured

Beth Burrous, biochemist and USBG volunteer.
Learn about plants used to make lifesaving medicines at the U.S. Botanic Garden...

Explore Capitol Hill

Landing of the Pilgrims

Overview 

A group of Pilgrims, led by William Brewster, is shown giving thanks for their safe voyage after their arrival in Plymouth, Massachusetts. (1620)

Constantino Brumidi
Artist

Frieze of American History
Rotunda
U.S. Capitol

Landing of the Pilgrims

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: September 30, 2013